Chapter 04:

Why should I be bitter 
about someone who was 
A complete stranger 
Until a certain moment 
In a day that has passed.

  • Saigyo


The day has not been a good one so far.

I woke up feeling irritable and restless; no thanks to Orochimaru dismissing me last night when I tried to bring up the topic of my participation in the upcoming Gudan festivities. How he always managed to make me look like a child in front of his ‘precious’ Kimimaro (or other officers in the vicinity for that matter), got me steaming with humiliation and rage. Just before I got into the meat of my reasoning, he had yawned and waved his hand as if shooing away a fly.

“Not tonight, Sasuke,” he said with a shake of his head. “I am weary, and I suggest we discuss this some other day. Gudan is still technically months away. Why the rush? The sinners will be punished in due time. Until then, find other ways to work off your frustrations, my dear.” And as if his insult wasn’t bad enough, he then winked at me playfully. “You know my door is always open in case you change your mind.”

That sick, twisted, perverted bastard!

It was all I could do to not plunge my katana into his back as he turned and walked away with a gloating Kimimaro by his side. If looks could kill, he (both of them) would have been singed to death.

It was with thoughts of multiple variations of murdering my tormentor, that I finally fell into a dreamless sleep…well at least it had been dreamless for the first few hours until the nightmare began. Imagine my shock and horror when my very dreams were suddenly filled with that face; that scarred face with eyes of deepest blue that seemed to scorch my very soul. I told myself it was only because he had stood out from the others; that it was because of his look of determination and anger that I was yet to witness in any other sinner at this stage of their incarceration. From the moment I saw him, something told me he was going to be trouble, and if my dreams were any indication, they only made me more apprehensive. I needed to get rid of him and quickly, but with Gudan still months away (it had to be done during the summer), I was stuck with trying to find other ways to make him non-existent.

All the same…I couldn’t remember exactly what the dream had been about, but I do know he was there…doing something…but…what?


Had we been talking? I think I remember we were talking for a while on a…


…or maybe we were traveling to someplace. I couldn’t remember the exact locat-


“What is it?” I snapped in irritation; finally looking up from the scroll I was pretending to read all this time.  

Haku’s visible wince at the tone of my voice had me relaxing my furrowed brows a little. Unfortunately, he has had to deal with most of my bad mood all morning (something I’m guessing he’s sort of used to by now). Still, I had to try to relax since it wasn’t his fault.

“Yes, Haku?” I asked in what I hoped was a softer and more conversational tone.

“Momichi Zabuza-san is here,” he announced with a light bow.

Oh great. I completely forgot all about that asshole. Sighing inwardly, I unrolled another section of the scroll. “Let him wait in the main office. I’ll see him there.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

Wait a damn minute. Was it just me or did Haku sound a little breathless? I looked up with a raised brow and called him back into the room.

“Yes, my Lord?” he asked as he kneeled again and tried to look innocent…which wasn’t all that hard to do. His facial features already had that expression of purity; of one who was untainted, though I knew he was almost my age and had seen more than his fair share of evils in the world. It was one of the reasons I chose him; perhaps more to rescue him from Orochimaru’s clutches or to protect him for some inexplicable reason. Oh, and that he had another skill that made him an invaluable manservant.

Right now there were twin hues of color on his cheeks. I knew the winter months were fast approaching, so it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the current weather. It was windy at best outside and not hot enough to warrant the blush.

“Are you all right?” I asked; absently reaching for the quill and ink, so I could sign my name at the end of the scroll.

“Yes, my Lord,” came the predictable response, but I could tell something else was on his mind, and I had the feeling it was related to the officer I was about to meet. I tried to piece together Haku’s history and to see if there was any reason for the two men to have met before. However, all I really knew about my manservant was that he had been found wandering the streets of the town about six years ago and brought into Byaku-Shinkyou by Kimimaro. At first Orochimaru had balked at the notion of the newcomer being a female, until it was proven otherwise (in the most obvious way of course). It was also a reminder that despite being with Haku for this long…I knew little to nothing about him. I had not bothered asking about his personal life because I did not care to know about it. All this time, I had actually seen him as nothing more than a…well…tool…

(and how does that make you any different from Orochimaru?)


“Sa…Sasuke-sama?” came the quizzical question.

I tried to give him a smile, but that action felt foreign and strange to me. I just couldn’t manage it. I had been brought up to keep my distance from those who were under my employ; menservants included. This was no time to become ‘buddies’ with him.

“I was just curious about your…reaction to Zabuza being here,” I finally said aloud. I stamped the scroll, rolled it up and placed it into the growing pile of scrolls beside me. They all contained orders for different rules and regulations that would have to be enforced; list of officers, patrol routes, patrol times, bodyguard duties etc. etc.

Haku bowed his head and to my chagrin, his blush deepened. Even before he opened his mouth, I already had an idea of where he was going to go with this.

“I knew…Zabuza-san and I…we were once…lo…”

“Save it,” I cut in with a shake of my head; trying hard to hide my disgust as the mental image of Haku bedding that big ugly oaf, filled my mind. I rose to my feet, and he must have realized I was in an even sourer mood because he couldn’t bear to look at me now.

Like a forlorn puppy, he trailed after me as I left my private quarters and began the brisk walk across the courtyard toward the administrative section of the compound. Since Orochimaru had decided to build/re-create his domain where his official affairs could be conducted, I chose to take over my father’s former office. During the surprise raid, the heathens had blasted holes through the doors and windows with their machine guns; hoping to get my father that way. Instead, they ended up taking several lives of close friends, good officers, and left most of the once prestigious building in disarray. Bullet holes had once riddled the fine oak walls, bamboo screens, and brick exterior. Windows had been shattered with either their splinters or large pieces of glass buried within the bodies of the unfortunate few within the building at the time.  Orochimaru had overseen the renovations, however, I pleaded with him to maintain the original style and design with the help of many old photographs. If there was one other thing I could be grateful for, it was his decision to let me have my way with that particular request.

“Good morning, Sasuke-sama,” came the polite greetings from some of the officers stationed on the grounds as I walked past them. I gave curt nods in greeting, but barely moved my head in acknowledgement at some of the purified sinners who greeted me, while attending to their various chores. They did have to earn their keep after all, and though I would have personally released them (who needed the overcrowding), Orochimaru seemed to think otherwise. Hence those sinners who had gone through the purification rites and renounced their sinful ways they were given a chance to redeem themselves by becoming productive members of society. Gardeners, landscapers, courtyard sweepers, cleaners, those responsible for making sure the temple, dojos, and offices were spic and span every single day, dish washers, laundry cleaners, mechanics…hell, you name it, you were bound to see one of ‘them’ hovering around like incessant flies.

I will admit most of them did spectacular jobs. Byaku-Shinkyou always looked impeccable.

However, my admiration for a well-tended lawn faded rapidly when I noticed Zabuza standing at the foot of the stone steps which led to my office. He was engaged in conversation with another officer; both laughing at some joke which got my hackles raised. I was sure he must have been aware of why he was called to see me, and yet he was acting as if this was some kind of a tête-à-tête with his friends. If it wasn’t for the officer he was chatting with suddenly looking over his shoulder and snapping to attention as he noticed me, Zabuza might have very well gone on talking even if I stepped on him.

“Good morning, Lord Sasuke!” the other officer bellowed in greeting.

I grunted in response and nodded toward Zabuza, who had only saluted without saying a word to me. His eyes seemed to gleam with amusement; as if mocking me, and though I had only planned to give him a reprimand about his behavior, I realized – as I began to lead the way up the steps – that I was going to make him pay for his goddamn insolence.

One of the guards slid open the shoji screen doors leading into the main office, and I walked into a room where I felt a sense of calm and purpose fall over me. Besides my private onsen, this was also a place in which I could put my thoughts together; perhaps because I felt my father’s spirit all around me.

Fugaku Uchiha had been a strict traditionalist, and instead of the many desks and chairs one could find in other sections of the building, stepping into his (my) office was like stepping back in time.

The finest tatami mats made of white cedar made up the floor. The ceiling was of red cedar paneling and the walls covered with traditional mud plaster. Though the original had been destroyed during the raid, we had managed to find a replica of an eight foot Mizuya cabinet in which my father had kept most of his files, scrolls, and other items of significance. I would later learn that most of those items were stolen by the heathens, which wasn’t that surprising to me. There was little to no hope of recovering those ever again.

An old-fashioned radio (father always enjoyed listening to the classics) sat beside a telephone, I rarely used, in a corner of the room. On the right was an alcove where father used to have private meetings. I chose to convert that into a shrine to my family, where my father, mother, and brother’s photographs sat amongst a small bouquet of flowers and candles that I lit every morning before praying in remembrance.

There were also photographs of my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather on the wall above the cabinet interspersed with the Uchiha clan crest (mon) of a fan. Our motto - to serve and protect – was etched around it. On days when I had felt overwhelmed with my duties, I would find myself looking up at the great men and that damned crest as if cursing it for putting such a heavy burden on my shoulder. And yet, I knew I wouldn’t have traded my position for any other…ever.

I allowed Haku to remove my swords and to place them on an antique console beside the cabinet, before settling down on the plush pillow behind the low desk with crossed legs. Along with the console, both pieces of furniture had, surprisingly, lasted through the barrage of gunfire. Though the Gansu desk (a gift from some Chinese dignitaries) still had a few bullet holes on the side, it was still sturdy enough to handle my day-to-day business. It was a morbid reminder of that day, but I felt it would be an injustice to discard it …besides it did have sentimental value.  

Despite the pile of paperwork awaiting my attention, I still took a moment to look beyond the desk, past the opened shoji screens, and into a setting father must have seen a thousand times over in his lifetime. From this vantage point, Byaku-Shinkyou was as beautiful as it had always been…as it was meant to be.

Beyond the large courtyard - where my brother and I used to play a lot and where father welcomed his many visitors - was the temple, the two main dojos and the massive gates which led into the compound. Beyond that was the view of Lake Kuttara surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the horizon. In winter, it was simply stunning; for the combination of snow and ice made for a picturesque scene worthy of any tourist postcard. I could see why my ancestors would have decided to move here, or why they had created Byaku-Shinkyou as a haven for their small traveling band of the Uchiha. According to the historical scrolls written about my family, Byaku had started out with only a few wooden townhouses to shelter those families. It had eventually expanded into its current 3,000 acre state where the clan had flourished to eventually become one of the most powerful and influential in the country. It was an exclusive community and did have its share of men, women, and children at one time.

(And what has it become now, Sasuke?)

A shadow of its former self. Thanks to those goddamn heathens.

“You never know who to trust,” had been Orochimaru’s reasoning as he made the law banning women and children from the premises. Unless they were coming to pay their respects at the temple, Byaku-Shinkyou would no longer accept them. In other words, the remaining few Uchiha, who were not able-bodied men, were banished from a land they once thought as theirs.

Swallowing down the familiar taste of bitterness that filled my tongue, I cleared my throat and forced myself to get back to the present.

“You can ask him to come in now,” I ordered Haku as I reached for the folder containing Zabuza’s personal information. “And you can leave us. This is to be a private matter.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

I barely looked up as I finally heard him come in; simply motioning for him to sit with a wave of my hand as I looked through his records over the years.

Momichi Zabuza – Age 25 (Good grief. I thought he was much older.)
Place of Birth – Kyushu (not surprising. I hear most heathens came from the South)

He was recruited into the force at the age of fifteen and spent the first five years at Byaku-Shinkyou being trained under Orochimaru. He was extremely proficient with the sword and preferred that as his weapon of choice. He was promoted to captain and transferred to Toshu-gu five years ago where he has presided over that branch ‘til today. His conviction record was at an impressive 94 percent, which meant he rarely let any sinner off easily. His precinct registered the lowest crime and murder rate compared to the others, though I doubted this report was telling me the whole truth. There was no mention of brutal scare tactics or of meaningless violence. There was nothing to tell of any wrong convictions or false accusations. In fact, anyone reading this, without knowing about the incident I witnessed, would have painted him as a goddamn saint.

“Well? Do I make the cut, sir?” came the low drawl, which had me looking up sharply.

He was sitting crossed-legged like me, but his body language was anything but respectful. That annoying gleam of amusement was still in his eyes, and his lips were bared to reveal those sharp canines that made me shudder with revulsion. Irritated, I slammed the folder shut and spat out coldly.

“You know exactly why I called you here, Momichi Zabuza. Your conduct on the bus ride from Toshu-gu was extreme and unbecoming of an officer of Byaku-Shinkyou. You have -”

His sudden bark of laughter caught me off guard and sent a rush of color to my face. My hands were slowly beginning to form tight fists.

“Do you mind sharing the joke?” I asked in a tone likely to freeze steam.

Zabuza smirked and leaned forward; a hand resting on his thigh as if about to share a secret with me. “You’re reprimanding me for using brute force on a sinner when the very things you do beneath the surface makes my antics child’s play?”

My jaw worked for a second. He was right, but I wouldn’t give him the pleasure of admitting it.

“Your display of unnecessary brute force in such a public setting,” I continued; keeping my gaze firmly on him. “tarnishes the reputation of this establishment. When sinners are driven to and from their places of incarceration, they will be treated as humanely as possible until appropriate purification rights are administered.”

He snorted. “Says the guy who chops off heads for a living.”

The slam of my fist on the desk was done before I could control myself. Even he seemed a bit surprised (if his raised brow was any indication) at my reaction. I was not usually this quick to anger, but with my already sour mood this morning, Zabuza was really pushing his luck.

“You will know your place, Zabuza,” I stated succinctly. “A reprimand will be written and added to your records as a warning. However, if this happens again -”

“What are you going to do? Torture me like the rest of your sinners? Demote me?” He sneered; his lips peeling back as his grin widened.

That was it.

“Your mon.”

He blinked in shock for a second before scowling. “What did you say?”

I held out my right hand in case my point wasn’t clear enough the first time around. “Your badge. Now, officer.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? Do you know how…?”

I snapped my fingers impatiently, and from seemingly out of nowhere, two burly guards – definitely much bigger than Zabuza - appeared behind him.

“It seems Momichi Zabuza has forgotten his place as an officer of Byaku-Shinkyou,” I said through clenched teeth, though I had to admit that watching that shit-eating grin now wiped off his face was delightful to my sense of victory. “Please remind him of exactly what happens to those who feel they are above the law.”

“Yes, sir,” they echoed like automatons, promptly reaching out to each wrap a muscled arm beneath Zabuza’s arms and dragging him to his feet.

“Get off me, you sons of bitches!” Zabuza growled, and he did put up a good struggle; nearly taking out one of the guards with his legs. “You spoiled little brat!” He growled at me. “You think you can keep hiding behind Orochimaru? Huh? You’re just a goddamn pawn for him! You are-”

I had heard enough of his drivel.

With an impatient sigh, I rose to my feet, walked around my desk, reached for his katana within his obi, unsheathed it and pressed its extremely sharp blade against his jugular. I watched dispassionately as a thin thread of blood suddenly appeared on his bronzed skin, and even he must have sensed that any attempt at struggling now would result in his immediate death.

“I gave you an option,” I hissed quietly. “You chose to be a fucking shit head over it. Bear the consequences like a true officer of Byaku-Shinkyou, and come back crawling on your hands and knees begging for mercy when it’s all over like the fucking dog you are.”

I ripped out the badge from his uniform, ignoring the dual emotions of fury and dismay that filled his eyes, before pushing him a little as a signal to the guards to take him away. His katana was thrown aside as well, where another officer appeared to take away the trash.

/You’re just a goddamn pawn…!/

Fuckin’ asshole! As if he had the right to judge me!

However, in the sudden silence after the calamity, my head began to pound with a headache that had my vision blurring. It was with an effort that I made my way to the teapot of water Haku always placed on one of the side cabinets in the office. I was even more surprised to find that my hands were trembling…and that I was still holding onto that idiot’s tainted badge. I flung it in disgust just as a light knock on the door signaled another visitor.

I was so not in the mood to see anyone. Turning away a little to hide my state of weakness, I asked sharply. “Yes?”

“Lord Orochimaru would like to see you, Sasuke-sama,” came the clipped tones an officer.

Great. Had word gotten out about Zabuza’s antics already? I’m beginning to think Orochimaru had a crystal ball that saw everything going on around the compound. That thought didn’t surprise me in the slightest.

“I’ll be there shortly,” I answered; waiting until the officer was completely gone before guzzling down two cups of water. I closed my eyes and tried to control myself; to regain that feeling of calm and serenity. Hadn’t he once told me that I’d die before my time because I put too much stress on myself? With the way my heart was still racing, I wondered if it was only a matter of time before Death came knocking. Perhaps I would even welcome it with open arms.

But not before taking you with me, Orochimaru.

Ten minutes later, I was kneeling before his desk; waiting (im)patiently for him to be done with the signing of some documents, which he then handed to some officers with curt instructions that they be delivered promptly. Though my curiosity burned to know just why those documents were so damn important, it only reminded me of how much Orochimaru kept from me. He rarely disclosed any real official plans to me unless he felt it was necessary, or perhaps I really hadn’t cared to know. I was also surprised to see his ‘shadow’ wasn’t around.

“Kimimaro is on assignment for me this morning,” Orochimaru said with a small smile as he began to unravel another scroll. “Miss him that much?”



He chuckled and began to read what was before him. Today, he was dressed in a pair of black pants that molded his hips, thighs and legs like a second skin, and a white shirt with sleeves that billowed like those of a pirate’s. I had never seen him wear the uniform of the watchdogs, which was fine with me. I cringed to think of him parading around with the Uchiha mon on his back. His long black hair was held up in a ponytail today with an elaborate gold band that shone brilliantly whenever the sun’s rays struck it. He looked even paler than usual, and though it was hard to tell, I had a feeling that beneath the thick layer of eyeliner hid bags of weariness.

He’s getting older...and he hates that...

“Having a good morning so far?” he finally asked, and I knew he was testing me. He must have heard about what happened with Zabuza.

“Fine,” I replied instead; having no intention of mentioning the officer’s insubordination. “I still have a few things to do…if you’ll excuse me to get them completed that is.”

Orochimaru smirked and looked up. “Though I must admit that seeing your beautiful face first thing in the morning is always a pleasure, I did call you here for something important.” He signed the scroll with a flourish and finally straightened up to give me his full attention.

“I am expecting a few daimyo and councilmen to pay us a visit this weekend. I trust you have no plans and will join me in entertaining them?”

No, I do not want to join you in entertaining a bunch of old farts who only show up to kiss your ass and beg for money to further their political campaigns.

“I have no plans,” I stated aloud.

“Good! Good!” Orochimaru grinned and leaned back in his chair; only to tent his long fingers beneath his chin to appraise me for a long minute. “Some of them would like to have a word or two with you.”

I sighed heavily. “Look, I already I told you -”

“Yes, I realize you are not willing to share your body with any of them, but that was not the point,” the older man interrupted with a wag of his finger as if admonishing me…which he was anyway. “You should keep yourself abreast of the changing political climate, Sasuke. If you hope to run this place someday, don’t you think it’s in your best interests to be made aware of…everything?”

What the hell was that all about? What was that look in his eyes? And why did I feel a sudden chill go through me at that very moment? Was there something he was telling me that I wasn’t picking up? Was he trying to hint at my incompetence or that if I wasn’t up to par, he just might hand Byaku-Shinkyou to…God forbid…Kimimaro? I shuddered at the thought and the realization that he just might be right. I had gone about my duties all these years as he had told me, never really allowing myself to think ‘outside-the-box’.

/You’re just a goddamn pawn!/

“Ah, we just got another busload of sinners,” Orochimaru was saying as he changed the subject. Two other officers had entered the room while I was lost in my troubled thoughts. They were currently briefing him on the situation. I had to get out of here.

“May I be excused?” I finally asked through lips that felt parched.

“Yes, you may, Sasuke. Try to have a good day, hmm?”

I ignored his mocking jibe and bowed in farewell before making my way outside to grateful and much-needed fresh air. Sometimes being around Orochimaru could be stifling and downright claustrophobic.

After my daily morning inspection of my squads, delegating them to their patrols for the day, as well as reviewing reports from previous patrols, it was almost lunch time when Officer Asuma Sarutobi came sauntering into my office.

“Busy?” he asked with a small smile.

“I told you not to smoke in my office,” I growled and waved a hand to emphasize my disapproval. But as usual, he ignored me, laughed a little, and blew even more smoke in my direction before making himself comfortable across me.

Asuma was a rare one; one of the few…actually the only officer I could have a conversation with for more than five minutes. He was my assistant of sorts; a rank lower than mine, but an invaluable companion whenever it came to making some decisions. He knew there were some boundaries he could not cross, but all the same, he was a man who did not seem afraid of me or my status. It was something he had made clear from the moment we met several years ago.

“Itachi was a good friend to me.”

I think it was those seven words that drew me to him; the fact that I latched on to anyone or anything that would remind me of my family. There was an inherent kindness in him that I had told him many times would make him weak to the sinners, but his cryptic words of:

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. You do not have to be cruel to be tough.”

...had left me unsatisfied and still eager to decipher what they really meant.

“Still eating alone, I see,” he pointed out with a nod towards the tray of food Haku must have dropped off earlier. As if on cue, my stomach suddenly growled in protest, forcing me to move toward it. However, Haku – ever efficient – heard the cue and slid open the screen door leading into his ‘hiding place’ (actually it was his private office where he was to wait until called upon) and with a bow of acknowledgement to Asuma, began to set up my eating area.

“I like eating alone,” I muttered as Haku uncovered the dishes; while deliberately ignoring the look Asuma must have thrown my way. Still didn’t stop my cheeks from burning at what he was implying.

There was no doubt that I garnered a lot of respect (and fear) from most of the officers, and those feelings were never more on display than whenever I tried to join them in the officers’ dining room. It was almost always the same reaction. I would hear lively conversation and laughter as I approached, and as soon as I stepped into the place…it would cease to hushed and reserved muttering. I knew they were uncomfortable around me, and their discomfort only made me feel more disgruntled. It was with an effort that I’d finish my meal; every damn bite like sand and rocks on my tongue. I knew they watched me surreptitiously. No one tried to strike up conversation with me, but that was okay. I didn’t need to engage in trivial banter anyway. When finished with the chore of eating, I’d excuse myself – and as you might have guessed, the moment I left, the lively conversation would begin again. No doubt many of them talking about me.

Were my feelings hurt? Perhaps, but as I mentioned before, my goal was not to make friends with anyone.

“Mmm…smells and looks good, Haku,” Asuma praised which sent the younger man’s cheeks flaring with color at the compliment. “You have really outdone yourself.”

“Thank you, sir,” came the shy response that had me rolling my eyes at the exchange. I picked up the chopsticks and began to dig into my steaming bowl of katsudon with gusto. I had no idea I was this hungry.

“And as usual, you do not offer me any,” Asuma stated with a mock pout. “See how mean he is to me, Haku-chan?”

Haku giggled and poured some tea into two cups, offered one to Asuma, before sitting back on his knees quietly.

“If you’re so hungry, go join the others in the dining room,” I pouted like an insolent child. “You don’t have to be here.”

“I’m here to keep you company because I know you’ll be lonely all by yourself.”

My blush deepened, and I tried to glare at him, but this only seemed to amuse him more for he burst into loud laughter.

“Goddamn it, Asuma! You’re going to burn down my office one of these days!” I reached out to pick up the still smoldering cigarette that had dropped from his mouth, and flicked it outside.

“Aww man, that was the last one,” came the grumble as he stared at the lost cancer stick with blatant longing.

“You should quit anyway. It’s bad for you.”

“Yes, mother dearest.”

I gave him the middle finger and ignored the chuckle this elicited. All the same, this was…dare I say…nice. I hated to admit that it did feel good to have someone to share a lunch with, and because he had been out of town for the past two weeks, having him finally back home was great.

As I ate, he spoke of his travels; something that Haku seemed to enjoy since he was asking the most questions. I was too busy eating and trying to remember what else I had to get done before spending an evening training at the dojo. I needed to vent my frustrations and what better way to do that but to work up a sweat hitting something or someone?

“All done?” Asuma finally asked as I laid down my chopsticks and washed down the last bites of my meal with another cup of tea Haku had poured for me.

I belched and nodded. “Yes. What have we got?”

He dug into his kamishimo to bring out a scroll, on which was listed the names of sinners brought into Byaku-Shinkyou in the past few days.

“Inspection later this evening?,” Asuma reminded me. “Where you get to divide the chaff from the wheat?”

I nodded and eyed some of the familiar names. The list from Toshu-gu, in particular, had me curious because I knew he was there; that bastard that had haunted my dreams last night. I didn’t want to know his name and yet…

“Haku, please tell Officer Touya to get me the folder containing all the information about the sinners specifically brought in from Toshu-gu.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Anyone there interest you?” Asuma asked once Haku had left the room. I shrugged and put on an air of nonchalance.

“Not really.”

“Heard Zabuza was in charge of that bus ride.”


“Heard he was reprimanded.”


Asuma smirked and shook his head. “You can be a cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch when you put your mind to it, Uchiha Sasuke.”

“He had it coming,” I grated harshly. “You should have seen the way he treated me. No respect whatsoever. It was downright insubordination, and he knew it. He was taunting me, Asuma.”

I met those brown eyes that were now filled with an expression that made me even angrier. It was pity and perhaps sadness, but either way, I disliked it. Luckily, Haku returned before I could address Asuma’s need to always feel sorry for me.

“The files as you requested, Sasuke-sama,” Officer Touya announced as he stepped into the office with a pile of folders within his arms. Groaning inwardly, I asked him to place them beside my desk. With Haku clearing away the tray and excusing himself, Asuma and I were finally left alone to begin pouring through the documents. Each folder had a photograph (or mug shot if you will) as well as more detailed information about each of them.

I pretended to be interested in some of the sinners, though I was more than impatient to flip through them quickly in an effort to find the blond one. However, since we had split the job of rummaging through them, there was the possibly that Asuma might have the blue-eyed sinner’s file, and my fears were confirmed when I had almost gone through my entire stack and I was yet to see him. Every now and then, I’d steal a peek at the file he was reading; my frustration mounting when the blond’s photograph was still not seen. However, just as I was about to read through the sinner – Hidan’s – file, another quick peek had my heart rate speeding up just a little faster in excitement.

The problem now was getting Asuma to give it to me without sounding like I was that interested.


I sat up at the low sound from the older man. “What? What is it?”

“Oh nothing,” he replied as his eyes continued to dart across the folder. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone with blue eyes, that’s all. You don’t see those everyday, eh?”

“Well, I’m glad you find his eyes captivating,” I replied flatly. “May I see the folder?”

Asuma raised a brow, and though I did my best to keep my expression neutral, I was sure he was still able to see something on my face, for he gave a small, knowing smile and without another word, handed over the folder.

I cleared my throat, ignored the curious look he was giving me, and forced myself to maintain a straight expression as I opened it. The effect was immediate and unchanged…much to my dismay. The photograph confirmed what I had seen that night and in my dreams; only instead of looking angry, there was a small smile on the scarred face as if…as if almost relieved to have been caught. It was baffling to be honest, but then again, I had seen some mug shots of sinners actually laughing. There was a forming bruise on his left temple; a sign that he must have been roughed up during his stay at the local prison, and still…within those blue eyes was a glow…a light of sorts that I couldn’t explain. Happiness? A person at peace within himself?

Goodness, came the sudden low voice within me. He is a good person; an inherently good person.

I gasped and squeezed my eyes shut; knowing damn well my so-called ‘ability’ was responsible for this momentary lapse in judgment.

“Sasuke?” came the concerned question that had me lifting my lashes quickly.

“I’m…I’m fine,” I replied with a weak smile. “Just…had a little…felt a little dizzy that’s all.”


I lowered my gaze to the document again; this time avoiding looking directly at the photograph as I began to read his information.

Uzumaki Naruto – Age 19

Oh my God! The murderer. I knew it! I knew it! My instincts were right after all. The overwhelming rush of relief, at the notion that my initial thoughts of him being fit for Gudan, had me almost sagging or falling to the floor in gratitude. Damn whatever the hell my eyes saw, it was what the gut knew, and after so many years in this ‘business’, it never failed.

Date of Birth – 10th October (just celebrated a birthday, eh? Probably in jail at the time)
Place of Birth – Shikoku (of course – a southern heathen)

Unfortunately, there was really nothing else on him besides the murder. No history of any arrests or even a petty crime. All the same, it was interesting to read his statements regarding the events of that night. Apparently, he had only shot the member of the Bakufu Syndicate (more on those bastards later) in self-defense. This yakuza had shot and killed his girlfriend, so he had to protect himself.

Taking another life for a life, eh? Typical.

I slammed the folder shut; having read enough. However, I was in a relatively better mood. From now until Gudan, Mr. Uzumaki Naruto would wish he had never been born. In fact, by the time the festivities came around, I was sure he’d be begging for death.

Except Asuma just had to ruin my fun, didn’t he? I knew I shouldn’t have allowed him to do the inspection with me.

It was almost dusk when I finally found the time to do the inspection, and I was just returning from the West Block where the new busload of sinners had just arrived. Slightly out of breath and running out of time, I walked into the courtyard where I could already see the long row of sinners awaiting my judgment. About thirty of them in all, all shackled to each other with chains around their legs as well as being handcuffed; their stench alone had me cringing inwardly. They really were a sorry bunch of pathetic humans.

And he was here as well…Uzumaki Naruto.

It was all I could do not to skim the heads of the men to find him, but controlled myself as I began to walk down the row; stopping only before each man as Asuma read out his name and crime. Flanking us were two other officers, just in case of a skirmish – which was highly doubtful since the courtyard was also surrounded by guards ready to open fire on any sinner bold enough to even think of starting something stupid.

“Shigure,” Asuma read. “Gambling, shoplifting.”

I stared hard at the trembling man before me. His gaze was lowered; hair shaggy and unkempt to match the week-old beard in need of trimming. Beads of sweat broke out on his brow and as I tipped his chin with the handle of my sword, I examined his facial features carefully. He could barely look me in the eye. A blackened soul through and through.

“Gudan,” I stated coldly, and moved to the next; ignoring the breathless cry this elicited from the condemned man…as well as the barely audible sigh from Asuma. What was his problem?

My irritation and annoyance grew with each name called and their sins; made only worse when the serial rapists and murderers stood before me. The one name Hidan was the most atrocious of them all. Even as he towered over me, with that slicked back hairstyle that seemed to be popular these days (at least for the sinners), he had absolutely no remorse for his actions. Talk about a man whose soul was so pitch black, it was impossible to see any hope for his redemption. Purification rites would be a waste.

“So you think they all deserved to die?” I asked coldly. “You think sexually abusing your victims, scalping them, and delivering body parts to their families was necessary?”

Hidan spat; his saliva almost touching my foot. Disgusting heathen. “Yep. All them bitches had it coming. No one would believe in the power of my god and his infinite mercy, so why forgive them? They deserved it. You should understand, Officer.”

As if I would lower myself to your twisted hedonistic nature.

Maybe it was his smile, or his self-righteousness and justification for his actions. Whatever it was, I was sick of seeing that expression on his face. Hardly giving him time to think, I struck his face – as hard as I could - with the back of my hand, watching as his head flew back and a fine spray of blood escaped his broken nose and lips. His howl of pain was music to my ears as Asuma was quick to give me a handkerchief to wipe off the stains from my uniform.

“Gudan,” I condemned the heathen and moved to the next person. I made a mental note to personally behead the fool when the time came.

My show of force seemed to do the trick, for the rest of the sinners now looked even more contrite and afraid. All the same, my good mood had completely evaporated, and by the time I found myself standing before the blue-eyed sinner, my tolerance for bullshit was at an all time low.

“Gu…” I began, not even bothering to waste another second staring at him, but Asuma cleared his throat.

“Do you have a cough now?” I snarled impatiently as I turned a little to face him.

“Well, you didn’t even let me call out his name before announcing his punishment.”

“I already know what he is guilty of…and why the fuck are you standing like that?” I barked; now turning back to Uzumaki Naruto. Everything about him was now goddamn infuriating.

Naruto held up his shackled hands as if begging for forgiveness, though there was something in his expression that was a mixture of disgust and amusement. Wait a minute…disgust? Who the hell was he to feel any such emotion?

“The soles of his feet, Sasuke,” Asuma replied forcing me to look down in confusion. Sure enough, Naruto was all but standing on the balls of his feet; an awkward position all things considered because his heels were wrapped in bandages.

So what? A cruel side of me sneered. He was going to die soon anyway, so why make his life any easier?

/He shot my girlfriend…the woman I loved more than anything else in the world…I knew he was going to kill me and I had no other choice…I had to defend myself./

I blinked at the sudden imprint of his typed statement filling my mind, and though I didn’t want to do it, I found myself actually meeting his eyes again…and yes, this time – standing barely a foot away from him, that feeling of being sucker-punched was more intense than ever before. In the dusk, they had taken on a shade of light violet, and I swear I could see flecks of gold within them.

My eyes – which always saw the ‘truth’ and warned my heart to make its decision – began to burn with what it really knew. That behind those blue eyes was a young man who had only done what anyone else in his position would have. Unlike me, who had no power to extract justice on those who had taken the lives of those I loved, this Naruto had done the opposite. Instead of walking away, he fought back the only way he knew how.

…and I hated him for it. Hated him for exposing a side of me that might never see the light of day.

I gritted my teeth and growled out his sentence. “Gudan.”

Asuma’s sigh was a little bit louder this time, and Naruto’s obvious display of disdain for me was more evident in his expression. I wanted to hit him, and just when I felt the itch to do so overwhelm me, he finally looked away with his jaw set as if ready for whatever was going to come his way.

The tight grip on my wakizashi – I hadn’t even known I was gripping the damn thing that tightly all this time – loosened a little. In fact, as I moved on to the next sinner, I realized I was breathing a lot easier now. I had been so tense around Naruto even my shoulders were beginning to ache with a dull throb. Haku would have to give me the mother of all massages tonight. God knows I needed it badly.

“So let’s see…out of thirty sinners…you only spared five,” Asuma stated with as much sarcasm as he could muster. We were back in my office, where I was just about ready to call it a day. My head was beginning to hurt. “Congrats, Sasuke.”

“Thank you,” I replied just as sarcastically.

“Good God, man,” he finally barked with a throw of his arms. “What is this? An attempt to break the record for most beheadings in one festival?”

I groaned and rubbed my aching temples as he began to nag and nag and nag and nag and…

“What the hell do you want me to do?” I finally snapped to interrupt his tirade.

“Have a heart maybe? If it’s not too much to ask.”

I snorted and rose to my feet. I was going to end this conversation. There was really no reason for me to remain here listening to –

“Itachi would have been very disappointed in you,” came the quiet words that hit me hard in the solar plexus and brought an unexpected sting of unshed tears in my eyes.

That wasn’t fair. That was not fair at all. It was a low blow and he knew it. My brother – besides my parents – was the only one who made life worth living. Itachi had been my rock, my everything. He could simply do no wrong in my sight, and I had worshipped him like any younger brother would. To use Itachi against me like just wasn’t fair. When I was sure I wasn’t going to burst into tears, I spun on my heels to glare coldly at him.

“I think you’ve done quite enough today, Asuma. You may leave.”

“At least put some of them to task around the grounds until it’s time for them to get off'd,” he continued, completely ignoring me as usual. “Some of the purified members have begun to leave for the city and there are open vacancies in need of good workers. We could use the extra hands. How about those ones who look like they’re about to croak anyway or who might be injured…like Naruto for instance.”

I stiffened.

“…instead of leaving him to be tortured day in and day out down there, and being completely useless, put him to work.”

“You are suggesting I allow a murderer to walk around the grounds, Asuma? You expect me to allow an unpurified sinner to wander the grounds?! Are you out of your damn mind?!”

“You make it sound like the guy’s killed a whole bunch of people. You read his folder, Sasuke. You know as well as I do that he would never have done such a thing -”

“But he did -”

“Because the occasion called for it -”

“…he is unclean…”

“He is only human -”

“…unfit for the ground…”

“You would have done the same thing in that position, Sasuke! Open those damn eyes of yours and see reason!”

“I will NOT have a murderer walking around the sacred grounds of my clan!” I yelled with a loud slam of my fist against the wall.

We were both breathing heavily and glaring at each other with plain animosity. I hated having to argue with him, but he was leaving me with no choice.

“Get out of my office,” I finally said quietly but firmly. “Please…leave…before we do something we regret.”

Asuma snorted and gave me a mock bow. “I was already leaving, my Lord. Wouldn’t want to sully the precious Uchiha grounds with my presence.”

“Asuma…” I growled with growing impatience.

“I’m going. I’m going. Jesus fucking Christ. You really do need to get laid and fast.”

I gasped at the insult and insinuation; feeling my cheeks burn even as his smirk and receding figure did nothing to cool my humiliation. How dare he suggest that everything will be solved with…with…that? He was no different from that pervert Orochimaru.

And yet…

“You are extremely tense, my Lord,” Haku observed as his soft yet strong hands worked their magic on my shoulders.

Several long hours later, I was lying face down on my futon with nothing but a white towel covering my buttocks, while receiving one of the many luxuries my manservant provided me. The shoji screens leading to the back gardens was open to let in some of the cool night air, and with the sweet-smelling candles, incense and oils Haku had at his disposal, I felt more relaxed than I had in weeks.

“It was a tiring day,” I agreed with a soft sigh as my lashes grew heavier with his ministrations. His hands were moving down to my lower back; a sensitive region for me all things considered. I couldn’t help my body’s natural reaction to the touch, and had to adjust a little to ease my ‘growing’ discomfort.

“Well, I hope I can please my Lord this evening,” Haku said softly; his hands moving back up to my shoulders to massage the tight knots there.

I grunted and turned my head to the other side; keeping my eyes closed though I was again – accosted with those blue eyes that wouldn’t let me go.

Disdain. Disgust. Anger. All emotions reserved for me.

/He shot my girlfriend…the woman I loved more than anything else in the world…/

I wondered what this girl must have been like; this girl that would drive him to commit a sin of such grave magnitude. Had his so-called love been that intense? Was love enough reason to forgive a sinner like that?

“Haku?” I suddenly called out wearily as I forced my lashes open.

“Yes, My Lord?”

“…am I…do you think me heartless?”

Why on earth did I need his opinion? What was I hoping for? His approval? Was I really allowing Asuma’s words to get to me this much?

Haku’s hands had stilled a little at the question, and I could almost see the wheels spinning in his head as he struggled to say the right thing without upsetting me.

“My Lord…you have done some good things,” he finally replied diplomatically.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I’m sorry, my Lord, but I can’t…”

“Never mind,” I interrupted with a heavy sigh and lowered my lashes again. “It’s not important.”

But in a way it was. If my brother was still alive...would he approve of me? Of what I had become? He had been a great fighter even at that age and no one had been able to defeat him in the dojo. I always wanted to make him proud of me; to show that I could be as strong as he was.

(so tell me, nii-san...would I make you proud today? Or would you despise the path I have chosen?)

My body trembled as Haku’s hands traveled beneath the towel to work on my upper thighs and then to my clenched buttocks. I was still a little uncomfortable at him being this intimate, but he had a job to do, and I had to remind myself that it was nothing more than a task to be accomplished. I bit my lower lip to stifle a groan as his hands molded the gluteal muscles before kneading them tenderly...thoroughly...and with an expertise that was downright wonderful. My toes began to curl with a pleasure that I could not deny; no matter how much I tried to tell myself that it didn’t matter. It was only the body’s natural reaction to such intimate touches after all. My heart was definitely not into it at all.

(what is he doing right now?)

A hand slipped between my butt crack, and I jerked automatically in response.

“Sorry, my Lord,” Haku breathed in a voice that told me he was anything but apologetic. He sounded like he was short of breath, and his breathing was indeed becoming shallow and uneven. The poor fool. It was his only opportunity to touch me after all; so why not indulge his fantasy? Stopping him now would be a cruel thing to do.

(is he locked in the bowels of the earth cursing me with every breath he takes?)

My servant’s fingers brushed against my testicles...once...twice...three times (definitely no accident now) and I bit hard into the pillow.

(is he thinking of me? Wishing he could kill me? Wishing he could inflict some kind of pain on me?)

My penis was a hard rock object against my torso and it hurt…even to breathe. I was aching in a way that was inexplicable to my senses, and though I had masturbated myself to relief a few times in the past…tonight…tonight felt…different…

(are those eyes burning with hate?)


I groaned and clutched the sheets tightly as Haku’s hands began to knead harder…faster…

(do you hate me, Uzumaki Naruto?)

Jesus fucking Christ…Haku…oh God…don’t…don’t touch me…like…that…

(Just as much as I loathe, despise and want your blood on my hands?)

The sudden parting of my butt cheeks - which left my anus exposed for only a brief moment - was more than enough to crumble my already weakening resolve. No level of self-control would have stopped what was bound to happen anyway.

(Ah shit...)

I came harder than I ever have before; my low grunt of completion buried within the soft pillow while my entire body shuddered and burned with embarrassment at my moment of weakness. I was so pathetic, I could cry, and I was sure if Orochimaru had been in the room, he would have laughed his ass off at the sight I made now. Mr. Cold and Aloof and Frigid couldn’t hold off his orgasm longer than five minutes.

Maybe he and Asuma were right. Maybe I did need to…

No! Do not forget what the priests taught you! You are only weakening to the pleasures of the flesh. You have to be stronger, Sasuke. For the sake of Byaku-Shinkyou.

“My…my Lord?”

“What?” I groaned in weariness.

“I apologize for daring -”

“Right. You are sorry.” I turned onto my back with a small smile; my lashes half-closed since I was this close to falling asleep. His features were just as red-faced as mine probably were, but I could see he was still proud of what he had done. I reached for the towel to cover myself, sighed heavily and staggered to my feet.

“Take care of the mess,” I ordered as I wiped myself and tossed the now cum-stained cloth to him. Reaching for my yukata, I slid into it and walked outside to get some fresh air. I got as far as the koi pond before stooping to my haunches to stare at the clear waters and my pale reflection.

There was a full moon tonight, and as just as the wind picked up to caress my heated skin, and I closed my eyes to worship Nature’s magic…

/“…instead of leaving him to be tortured day in and day out down there, put him to work.”/

Fuck you, Asuma.

…I knew I was about to make a decision I would probably regret for the rest of my life.






Chapter 05

Naruto Home











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