Chapter 19:

Dire Relativity


Is there any way
Except by a messenger
To send these words to you?
If I could, I'd come to you
To say goodbye forever.

- Fujiwara no Michimasa




“Please, Orochimaru-sama. Behold our newborn son.”


All meaningless.


“He is our first child, and we would be honored to have your blessings upon him.”


He towered over their kneeling forms; an alabaster statue of aloofness staring dispassionately at the wailing infant cradled within its mother’s arms. For an instant, he pictured his hand reaching out to cover those reddened features -


(such an ugly child)


...and squeezing until there was the crunch of bones and the ooze of its brain and blood coating his fingers.


(hardly worth the trouble)


He allowed his gaze to drift to the mother; to appraise her thoroughly, and without a doubt knew where the unfortunate infant had received its hideous looks from. She was a scarecrow of a woman – all limbs and hanging flesh, her liquid onyx eyes filled with that expression of adoration and worship that - on any other day - would have pleased him greatly. However, such idolatry only made him more irritated and dissatisfied (restless) and goodness knew he would rather not deal with all this today. He wanted his solidify half-hatched plans. Unfortunately, it was a sacrifice he had to make, for his ploy to garner the public’s sympathy over the ‘destruction’ of such a national treasure like Byaku-Shinkyou also included allowing said public into the grounds for a rare face-to-face meeting.


(milk their sympathy...become the victim)


He looked at the weakling of a father; a man who radiated greed and a penchant for other women as obvious from the sly glances he had been throwing at the other females in the vicinity. Orochimaru couldn’t really blame him considering the specimen he had married, but he would not tolerate such expressions of lust and longing within the hallowed halls of the temple.


(if I were in the mood, I’d have your carcass baking beneath the sun as an example for others)


“Give me the child,” he finally said aloud with outstretched arms. It took all of his acting skills not to cringe as the warm squiggling swaddled mass of a life form was placed within them.  He stared into the face for only a second before looking out to the rapt congregation – about a thousand strong - before him.


“We bring this child in the presence of the Great and Holy One,” he announced with as much intonation of reverence as he could; though his mind was now a million miles away with his other distressing thoughts. “We pray that he has a long life free from the temptations of wicked sins and iniquity -”


It was the smell that was the problem; the underlying stench of smoke, ash and death which still lingered heavily in the air almost three days after the disaster that had been Gudan. If he strained his ears hard enough, he could hear the unremitting sounds of construction going on around the grounds; a pitiful attempt to rebuild some of the destroyed buildings.


Over half of the sinners’ quarters... gone. The entrances to the West and East block dungeons...charred to the ground. However, the worst of all was the arena specifically designed for the sacred festival. It was, without a doubt, his pride and joy, and to see the once grand stadium reduced to a shadow of its former self had sent barbs of pain so deep into his heart, he could barely stand while surveying the damage afterwards. His ‘great’ idea of setting up the ring of fire to create a more intense fighting atmosphere turned out to be the worst possible situation in the end. That, coupled with the fires started outside the stadium, eventually created an inferno that was difficult to tame. The firefighters had to give up, suggesting they simply wait until the flames extinguished on their own before going in for a final clean up.


What a mess.


Those unfortunate souls who had been trampled to death (there must have been about two hundred in all) as well as some of his finest officers and guards, were either reduced to ashes or blackened stumps. The once sturdy steel dome, where a blood bath had occurred just hours earlier, now looked like a melted skeletal structure on its last legs. Nothing could have survived the fires, and Orochimaru had honestly assumed both Sasuke and that blond sinner had met their end in the fiery flames...


...until Kimimaro told him what happened.


(still alive)


(still alive)



Unaware of how hard he was now squeezing the child in his arms or the pinched expression on his visage as the monotonous prayers and chants from the congregation droned on, Orochimaru experienced the same emotions of shock, anger/fury, and yes...even a tiny bit of relief at the news.




Yes. For though he told himself countless times that he was only doing this for his self-interest and that Sasuke’s death was of a huge benefit to the plans he and Danzo had set into motion, there was still a tiny part of him that cared deeply for the obstinate young man. So yes, he had done something cruel in murdering his parents as well destroying the happier/normal life he could have had, but in return, Orochimaru felt he had done the best he could in raising the ultimate warrior and companion to spend the rest of his days with. Sasuke would have been the perfect blend of the two, eventually becoming much stronger than Kimimaro and taking over that coveted position as his right-hand man (in every possible way). He bit his lower lip as a tidal wave of bitterness overwhelmed him. Perhaps if he had been more strict with the boy...made him more submissive from an early age instead of letting him do things his own way in an attempt to act like a ‘friend’ and ‘father’. Though Sasuke had never really warmed up to him, there were moments when the little child had clung to his every word; soaking up all his words of wisdom and not cringing whenever an embrace was exchanged or a gentle kiss on his forehead.


When did it all change?


When he allowed that damn traitor, Sarutobi, to get in the way, that’s when. It was a good thing Kimimaro had taken care of that fool, or Orochimaru would not have gone any easier on the once decorated officer. He had assumed their relationship was purely platonic and professional, and yet who knew what that bastard had been feeding his precious one all these years to poison his mind against him?


As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kimimaro’s revelation that Uchiha Itachi and Shisui were still alive and were probably the leaders in charge of this ambush, had caused him to laugh in stunned disbelief. He took pride in being able to pinpoint his enemies and destroying them before they had the opportunity to attack first, and yet...those two young men had somehow managed to evade him all these years. Orochimaru had to give it to them. Wasn’t that why the Uchiha had been feared? Their ability to be in control from the shadows had made them formidable opponents. And yet, what was he to think of Uchiha Shisui being under the employ of Danzo in the first place? Danzo had never revealed that to him despite his claim of ‘transparency’ in all their dealings, but here it was. A glimpse of the truth. The old coot had lied to him again! Making it seem as if he had no knowledge of any other Uchiha still in existence.


What a fool I’ve been.


Well no more. No longer was he going to rely on Danzo’s counsel from now on. With the Commissioner detained in the hospital, Orochimaru knew he’d have to move quickly to gain control of the situation, hence his decision to perform the mock funeral, while striking up a deal with the current kumichō of the Bakufu Syndicate.


To be honest, Orochimaru loathed the yakuza with a passion. To him, they were nothing more than thugs in suits; claiming to be overlords of Japan with their decadent ways and unscrupulous methods of achieving their goals. Drugs, alcohol smuggling and trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, slavery, bribery, corruption, greed, embezzlement...just thinking about it all gave him a major headache and a need to purify himself continuously. Hence making the decision to pick up the phone to speak to Ryoichi Ikegami had given him a severe case of migraine.


“I’m surprised that the great leader, Orochimaru-sama, would be calling a lowly servant like myself,” came the smoky drawl, so full of sarcasm, Orochimaru would have happily reached into the phone to kill him in that instant.


“We are of like minds, Ikegami-san,” he replied as evenly as he could. “Perhaps we can be of some help to one another.”


“Is that wise? Danzo has been the one calling the shots... at least he thinks he has,” Ryoichi added darkly, and even Orochimaru had to smile at that. For years, Danzo had assumed he kept the Bakufu in his pockets, but perhaps the embers of rebellion were beginning to take shape at last. All the better.


“What makes you think I want to work with a man like you?” Ryoichi continued testily. “Having you two crazy bastards on my ass is not exactly my idea of running an effective business.”


“You forget that I have pardoned a lot of your crimes,” came the hard reply. “I’ve had to turn the blind eye to some of your sins, Ikegami-san, and I’d hate to have the public aware of just how ‘trustworthy’ you are. How’s that car sales business of yours doing anyway?”


Orochimaru sneered as he literally heard the other man’s grinding jaws at the other end of the line. “I see your point,” Ryoichi finally grated through clenched teeth. “You try to stop the import of my automobiles -”


“Filled with probably several thousand kilos of heroin -”


“What do you want?” came the curt interruption.


“Nothing too difficult,” Orochimaru replied with a cold smile. His gaze was absently trained on the blasted Uchiha crest painted on the wall of his underground lair. He had always wanted to paint over that thing, but as usual...his need to please Sasuke forbade him to do so. Damn it.


“Your Syndicate is easily the most powerful in the nation...if not across Asia...and I’d like you to wield your might in searching for a group of renegades who are nothing more than nuisances.”




“What is so amusing?”


The kumichō all but smirked on his end. “An unfortunate incident that happened to your precious Byaku-Shinkyou, right?”


Orochimaru’s fingers tightened around the receiver. He counted inwardly to ten before replying as calmly as possible. “You have an idea of who they are, don’t you?”




“So you were aware of their existence?” he barked in annoyance; now wondering if Danzo had known as well. In fact, how the hell wasn’t he sure that Danzo had planned this all from the beginning? Sure he had been shot and might lose his right arm eventually, but that was a small price to pay for all the damage done here.


That sly son-of-...!


“I’m surprised you weren’t able to capture any of them,” Ikegami was saying.


How could they? Orochimaru thought wildly. The few renegades caught in the skirmish had either died at the hands of overzealous officers (who hadn’t thought long enough to capture them for questioning), or committed suicide when they realized they were backed into a corner. Their leaders had trained them well. Orochimaru would admire that core principle within the organization, if it wasn’t for the destruction and chaos they had left in their wake.


“Your task,” he spat out to change the subject from his failures. “Is to have your men search thoroughly for them. Do I make myself clear? You have over three hundred clans under your watch, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get them all involved in this. If it means having to search in neighboring countries, then do it!”


“You know I can’t go stepping into the Chinese triads’ turf,” Ikegami countered back with a yawn of boredom. “And besides, I doubt they would have gone very far in such a short time. So whose head do you want? Their leaders’ or do we have permission to kill anyone who remotely knows of their organization?”


“I want one or two for questioning...preferably those in high enough positions, but anyone who is in the thick of things will work. Oh, and while you’re at it, any living Uchiha left, please destroy as well. They have been thorns in my sides long enough.”


“How the hell are we supposed to know that?” Ikegami asked irritably. “I know they’ve got weird special things with their eyes, but I can’t just go about asking my men to kill anyone who might have their last name.”


Orochimaru held a finger to his temple and rubbed it gently. “Fine! Focus on finding out about this Akatsuki organization and its members and destroy it! Torture them enough so they will have no willpower to kill themselves and let me know, understand?”


“Yeah, yeah...” Orochimaru could have sworn he heard ‘you pain-in-the-ass’ being muttered, but he ignored it. It was time to play his trump card.


“Ah, I might have something of interest to you as well.”


“What now?” Ikegami was no longer in the mood to deal with this insane, power-hungry bastard.


“You remember the death of one of your members...a Masataka Kojima from the Nagasaki prefecture at the hands of a young man who was in debt to you?”


Ikegami stiffened. How could he possibly forget? Having members of his Syndicate get killed everyday was no big deal and some losses he even welcomed especially if they were troublesome. However, Kojima’s death had struck the hardest because the irresponsible son-of-a-bitch had been his late sister’s only child. Kojima had had the potential of becoming a wakagashira (first lieutenant) eventually, but his decision to engage in boozing, whoring, and random killings (Ikegami had lost count of how many times he had to bail out the fool from prison) had held him back from getting ‘the call’ to the big leagues. Ikegami knew Kojima had always held it against him for not progressing, and perhaps it was his way of rebelling, but all the same he had raised the man as his son and despite all his sins, Ikegami still loved him.


To hear of his death had been a crushing blow to say the least, and Ikegami had set out to find the killer no matter what it took. It had taken a while, but eventually they had found the bastard; some dumb kid who really had no right waving a gun about. Ikegami would have loved to ‘punish’ the kid the yakuza way, but the watchdogs had gotten him first, hence the decision to take him to Byaku-Shinkyou in the end. His hope had been that by now the kid would have gotten a lesson in torture and beheaded like all the other sinners in the past. Justice had to be served after all.


“What about him?” he finally asked.


“Let’s just say that young man managed to escape during the ambush,” Orochimaru drawled lazily. “So right now, the man who killed your precious nephew is probably out and about as a free man. We can’t have that happening, can we?”


Ikegami could feel the blood draining from his features, and he gripped the edge of his desk until his knuckles were white as sheets. “Wasn’t it your job to get rid of him?!”


“You saw what happened at Gudan,” Orochimaru replied tightly. “Somehow, it seems he might be a member of Akatsuki. Maybe they had planned to free him from the beginning.”




“Good! I’m glad to see that you’re more motivated to find him now.”


“I want his head,” Ikegami growled. “I want to deal with him my own way, got it? I allowed you watchdogs to take charge and you couldn’t handle it. Allow us to show you how it’s really done.”


Orochimaru shrugged. “Whatever you say. If you find him, he’s all yours. Although...”


“What now?”


“If it turns out he’s with the Uchiha brothers...” Orochimaru paused.


“The Uchiha brothers?” Ikegami asked incredulously. “I thought that whole family was dead.”


“And indeed they are,” Orochimaru added with a firm nod. There was no need discussing that aspect with this man. “Your only mission is to find the rest of the members of the Akatsuki organization and the blond one...Uzumaki Naruto. Do what you will when he is found. However, do not harm anyone else with him, do I make myself clear?”


“Fine with me. He’s the only one I want anyway.”


“Good...although I should warn you that he might be a very tricky customer.”


“Why’s that?”


“I believe his father was a former member of your organization. Someone who was quite the assassin and was next in line to be kumichō – your current position - before he deflected the Syndicate almost twenty years ago.”


“What are you -?”


“Put it together, Ikegami-san,” Orochimaru sneered. God, he loved tossing in a wrench to ruin people’s plans. It was always good to do a little homework. You never knew when such extra knowledge would become useful. “He was your comrade...well more like a mere ‘little brother’, while you were the honorable first lieutenant waiting for your turn to become the oyabun. However, there was a rumor floating around that this young man, with such talent and potential, was already being touted as the next kumichō. Can you believe that? Your father apparently didn’t think too highly of you in the end, did he?”


“You bastard...” came the low growl, but Orochimaru wasn’t done with his story.


“Naturally, this didn’t sit too well with you, and if I’m not mistaken, there were several attempts made on this young man’s life...with you being the culprit behind the scenes...”


“Shut up! You don’t know anything!”


And yet from the pounding of the fist on the desk and the heavy breathing (of panic) filling his ears, Orochimaru knew he was definitely hitting a sore spot and triggering memories Ikegami would have preferred to keep buried.


“Oh, don’t I?” Orochimaru continued with a mock yawn of weariness. “You finally had to implore Danzo’s help, didn’t you? Which is odd considering Danzo regarded him highly as well. I guess the old bastard doesn’t take too well to those who question his authority as I’m sure Minato did. Any way, together, you finally took down your greatest threat...though it was unfortunate that his wife and child survived and managed to escape.”


“” Ikegami grated harshly.


“I’m trying to say, you insufferable dolt, that the young man you are on the hunt for now, is the son of Namikaze Minato, the rightful heir to your current seat! Your father had his plans already set, but you and Danzo saw it fit to eliminate those who knew of this transfer of power, didn’t you? If he finally understands and knows of who’s responsible for the loss of his family and true heritage, I have no doubt the threads of revenge will begin to unravel. The blood of Senju runs through his veins, so he is not an easy one to deal with.”


A brief image of Naruto fighting in the dome filled Orochimaru’s mind, and that familiar thrill of lustful desire at the animalistic expression on the blond’s features seared down his spine. The thought of such a beast in power...




“Yes. So, even more of an incentive to find and have him destroyed, eh?”


Heavy silence greeted this, and Orochimaru would have laughed with mirth; imagining the pale features on the other man’s grizzled face. From the few pictures he had seen of Ryoichi Ikegami, he was a bear of a man; standing over six feet tall with a physique that had once been considered the envy of body builders everywhere. At almost sixty years old, he was still able to intimidate anyone just by walking into a room, but at this very moment, Orochimaru was sure this ‘great man’ had been reduced to nothing more than a panicked child desperate to pick up the shattered pieces of his once perfect life.


(serves him right)




“How...?” the other man cleared his throat and tried again; hoping to sound angry. “How are you sure of this? He did not get married! He never had a wife! If he did, we would have known!”


“You fool!” Orochimaru hissed. “If you idiots had not been content to settle back to toast your minor victory, you would have realized he thought ten...a thousand steps ahead of you! Isn’t that why he was next in line for being the head of the Bakufu?! That unlike you, he was more thorough and deliberate before making any decision; many of which he did to make your Syndicate what it is today?! You might have taken his life, but his legacy lives on. It is now up to you to snuff out that flame before it burns even brighter. In other words, do not fuck it up this time, kumichō.”


“You don’t tell me what to do! You do not -!”


“I am done with this discussion unfortunately,” Orochimaru snapped impatiently as he glanced at the clock. “We will speak again if there is any news...successful news that is. Oh and before I leave, this conversation between us must never be mentioned to Shimura Danzo. Consider this a covert mission under my guidance, is that clear?”


There was a barely audible sigh of irritation at the other end. “Understood. But what -?”


“Good bye, Ikegami-san. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”


He hardly gave the other man a chance to respond before hanging up the device and rising to his feet. He knew that Ikegami would have a million and one questions, especially with his slip up of the mention of the brothers and Minato’s living son, but the kumichō was a man of his word, and Orochimaru had no doubt his instructions would be carried out to a tee.




(let him figure out what to do with the information about Minato)




He blinked and forced himself back to the present; now aware of the slight tug on his robe from one of the High Priests. He, along with everyone else in the temple, were watching him with varied expressions ranging from bemusement to concern. The chanting and praying had stopped minutes earlier, and apparently they were expecting him to finish with a final word or two. This he did almost automatically; hardly understanding half of what he was saying before he delivered the ‘blessed’ child back into the grateful parents’ embrace and finishing with another round of prayers before dismissing them.


“Thank God that charade is over,” he mumbled to himself as he swept past the priests and guards while making his way to his private chambers. Kimimaro followed silently behind him; his expression hardly giving anything away, though Orochimaru had known the young man long enough to realize that he was still moping over what had transpired the other day.


“Betrayal is inevitable,” Orochimaru snapped impatiently. “I knew that boy would be trouble the moment you picked him up from the snow. You should have left him to die.”


Kimimaro winced inwardly, but kept his silence. Absently, his hand reached out to caress the scarred torso beneath his uniform; a painful reminder of Haku’s final decision. Though he had pretended not to care, Kimimaro had still seen the anguish in the younger man’s eyes, and had realized just how much it must have hurt Haku to inflict an injury on him. The feeling was mutual. Though their relationship had cooled over the years, Kimimaro still felt Haku owed him his life and would definitely not have expected this from him.  


“Would you like me to draw you a bath, my Lord?” he finally asked softly.


“No...not yet,” Orochimaru replied with a distracted air. “I...I would like to take a walk first...and then perhaps I will send for you later.”


Kimimaro nodded and excused himself, leaving Orochimaru to stand rooted to the spot – in the middle of his lavish bedroom – before shaking himself a little as if rousing awake from a daydream. Through the back doors, he ambled aimlessly for a while around the private gardens; that sickening, lingering aroma of carbon monoxide filling his lungs and causing him to cough pitifully. It was a depressing reminder that despite his outward attempts to remain youthful, the years were beginning to catch up with him. He knew he was no longer as fast as he used to be; so fast that his good friend and rival, Uchiha Fugaku, had nicknamed him ‘Lightning’.


Ah Fugaku...even in death, you still manage to screw me over. You have brought up two very wise and beautiful sons, but unfortunately; their living is only going to be even more of a hindrance to me. Please forgive me for not sending them to you quick enough.


He came to a stop as he realized he had ambled right into Sasuke’s section of the grounds, which was in actuality, the previous home of the head of the Uchiha clan. It was the least he could have done for the boy, while he had built his current extravagant abode. For all their wealth and power, there was nothing really extraordinary about this place. Sure the wood used for construction were sturdy and of the finest money could buy, but from the outside, it could have been any other ordinary family home. With bitterness on his tongue, and a slight heaviness in his heart, Orochimaru pushed open the shoji screen doors and was immediately assailed by the lingering scent of the young man he had lost. It was as if time had stood still in here, the pungent stench of smoke and death which filled the ‘outside’ hardly filtering into the neat rooms.


Orochimaru paced around slowly; soaking in every thing as if deprived of such a sight. It had been a while since he visited Sasuke’s home; only because a part of him felt sullied at the notion of being around Fugaku’s spirit. His fingertips caressed the low antique desk, which still had a neat pile of papers (forms to be filled and signed with the never-ending list of sinners for admission or release), a crystal paperweight of a hawk; a gift from Orochimaru several birthdays ago. He hated to admit the sight of this warmed his heart a little. There were his quills and ink...his stamps...and a worn prayer book, which Orochimaru flipped through absently to note that Sasuke didn’t take his faith too lightly. The boy had annotated just about every page with his thoughts, while highlighting sections that interested him. Such studiousness was also noted in the other books arranged neatly in the low shelves. The young man had definitely not believed in ‘light reading’ had he? Most of the books dealt with faith, religion, philosophy, and psychology; anything that seemed to deal with the workings of Man’s dilemma between salvation and death.




On his left, Sasuke’s uniform – what he must have hoped to wear if Gudan had been successful – hung neatly against his closet. Orochimaru allowed his fingers to caress the fine black cloth, while imagining the beautiful body that should have been in it. He closed his eyes and moaned pitifully, wrapping his arms around the uniform and inhaling the unique (almost knee-weakening) scent that could only belong to Sasuke.


(to see you one last time before I kill you...that is all I touch you and see...hear that oh-so-beautiful sound of your satiation before I drain the life out of you...feel your succulent blood on my tongue as I suck you dry...that is all I could ever want)


But for now, he would bide his time and wait for the reports on their whereabouts. He doubted it would take very long. For between Ikegami’s clans and his special secret forces within the watchdogs, Orochimaru was sure he had everything covered.


Those bastards would simply have no place to hide.





Naruto officially labeled it the ‘bus-ride-to-hell’.


So far, his day was turning out to be a very shitty one, no thanks to Mr. Slow Poke who had hogged the bathroom for almost a whole hour; keeping the rest of them locked out because of his bipolar tendencies. No matter how many times he banged on the door, Sasuke just wouldn’t let them in. What the hell was the guy doing in there for a whole freakin’ hour? How long did it take for him to scrub himself and rinse off?!


It wasn’t until big brother finally stepping in, did Sasuke finally hobble out. And did he apologize for keeping everyone else waiting? You bet your ass he didn’t. He just acted as if the past few minutes of Naruto hollering and calling him names hadn’t happened (didn’t even spare Naruto a glance, let alone his brother) before slamming the door to his room shut.


Some people just needed to be slapped (again!) in his opinion, and now that they were away from ‘authority’, Naruto’s fingers were more than itching to do the deed.


He glared at the shaggy black locks before him; the childish urge to reach out to tug them until Sasuke cried ‘uncle’ overwhelming him. However, something else about the atmosphere made him think otherwise. For one thing, Sasuke wasn’t sitting close to his brother. In fact, all throughout this morning, it appeared as if Sasuke didn’t even want to look at his brother’s face. What the hell happened last night? Did they fight? Naruto hadn’t heard any arguing. If anything, he was sure they had been getting along well, besides, Itachi was way too cool to start an unnecessary fight. So what was the deal?


Itachi, for his part, was just as bemused. He was sitting beside the driver (the same Korean who had delivered them to Jae’s apartment complex last night) and every now and then, would glance into the rearview mirror, only to see that same sullen expression on Sasuke’s features as he looked out the window. He couldn’t understand it. Shisui had said something about Sasuke being outside their door when he woke up, and when he tried to start up conversation, the younger man had just about shot daggers at him with his eyes before locking himself in the bathroom.


Over a quick breakfast of instant ramen, courtesy of Jae, where plans had been made for the way the day would go, Itachi had felt the same ‘cold’ vibes from Sasuke. Any attempt to get his brother to make a suggestion or give a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to anything was met with resolute silence or an indifferent shrug. It was annoying when Sasuke got this way (and goodness knows he did that a lot as a child), and Itachi had hoped he’d have outgrown this side of him, but apparently not.


(some things just never change)


With or without Sasuke’s help, it was decided that Itachi would be the one to take them to the hospital, while Karin, Haku and Shikamaru would go shopping for some much-needed household items and food. Shisui had some ‘other’ business to attend; code for doing some snooping around to find out what was going on across the sea. At the end of the day, they’d return for a meeting to compare notes and see what steps they could take from here on out.


“Hey, Itachi!” Naruto called out from his position in the back seat. “How much longer before we get there?”


“About five minutes, give or take,” Itachi replied with a small smile thrown over his shoulder. “How’s your shoulder feeling?”


Naruto tried to flex it, but it was still pretty stiff beneath the wad of bandages. “Not too good. Must have slept on it after all and feels a little weird.”


He hoped he hadn’t dislocated it again. He wanted this shit to heal fast, so if he was lucky, he could bolt away from this crew and get ‘lost’ again with his wanderings before they could stop him. It was a decision he had come to in the wee hours of the morning. He knew he was technically still a wanted criminal and had been on death row, but with his freedom, was it better for him to hang around these guys? Being stagnant and risking being found again? Or was it better to return to being a nomad; not settling down in one place for too long before heading off again? It was a pain, but it was better than nothing.


“How’s your leg, Sasuke?” Itachi was asking, and Naruto was unaware he was holding his breath as he waited for the other man’s answer.


After what seemed like an eternity, Sasuke finally mumbled out a ‘it’s fine’, and left it at that. Itachi gave a curt nod and turned his attention back to the driver to speak to him, while Naruto shook his head in disbelief and stared out his window.


Man...if I had a brother, I’d never treat him like that. I don’t care what he does to me. He’s even lucky he’s got a damn family member left.


(and I’ve got nothing)


Which all brought it back to Shisui’s little tale about his father. Naruto was gradually coming to realize just how much he really wanted to know more about this guy and even his mother. If his father had really been a member of the Syndicate...would they have willingly left him and his mother to die? He thought Syndicate members took care of their own. Wasn’t that what Kojima preached to him about all the time? So why? Why had his father abandoned them in their time of need? What really happened to him all those years ago?


(if you hadn’t died...I wouldn’t be in this mess, right now. We could have been a real family; lived in a nice house...gone to a good school...maybe even be in college now...)


So what the fuck went wrong? Maybe he ought to talk a little more to Shisui, begin some sort of investigation into his father’s life. At least if nothing else, he could make peace with the past and move o –




A sudden jolt had him nearly falling off his seat, and he blinked hard and looked around in mild panic.


“What the hell -?”


“It’s okay,” the driver was saying in broken Japanese. “I be careful with these people who don’t know how to cross road. Move!” he bellowed to a man with a slow moving truck filled with chickens.


It took almost a good half-hour to finally clear the damn road, and by then the heavy stench of chicken feces, hay, and a few stray feathers floating in through the windows; had the occupants of the minibus wishing the trip was over already. Luckily, the bus finally pulled up to a cluster of two-storey buildings; none distinguishable from the other except for the crooked sign, on one of the doors, with the characters: 자비의 클리닉 우리의 레이디

...which roughly translated into ‘Our Lady of Mercy Clinic’. Naruto thought the place looked a little shady, but he realized they couldn’t risk going to one of those bigger hospitals, and he’d have to trust that Itachi knew what the fuck he was doing by bringing them here.


“I know it looks suspect,” he said as if reading Naruto’s mind while they stepped out of the bus and into the mid-morning sunlight. “But the doctor is a good friend of mine and is actually quite the best at what he does.”


“Business not doing too well then?” Naruto asked with a smirk.


Itachi chuckled and looked back to the bus, hoping to help his brother out. “He’s one of those men who prefer to work for a good cause and not just for money. A rare breed indeed. Do you need some help, Sasuke?”


“I got it,” Sasuke grunted as he lumbered and fought with his crutch for almost a minute before managing to extract himself from the bus without falling on his face. As before, he ignored the hand offered to him and hobbled ahead of his companions. Naruto rolled his eyes and stuck his hands into the pockets of his pants before following Itachi, who was finally not wearing a robe today and looked relatively normal in western clothing.


Naruto guessed it was a trait all the Uchiha men had; to look good and attract attention even if they didn’t want it. It was noticeable in the way the nurse at the front desk just about drooled all over herself as Itachi went up to speak to her, and how the other nurses (and the few patients in the waiting hall) gawked at Sasuke as he hobbled to find a seat for himself.


The only attention Naruto got was a little kid, of about five, pointing at his face and probably asking his mom why that guy’s got those weird marks on his cheeks. Naruto had had to deal with that while in Japan, so why would it be any different here? He tried to smile and engage the kid in a game or something, but the boy would only cling to his mother’s chest with a frightened expression while she tried to apologize on his behalf.


“This way,” Itachi announced as he approached the men, who were literally sitting miles apart from each other. He sighed inwardly. “He’s expecting us.”


This time, Sasuke brought up the rear, not that he had wanted to. Naruto was happily chatting away with his brother, and not for the first time, he felt a pang of envy at how easily the blond could start up conversation with someone he barely even knew.


And why are you getting upset anyway? You’ve been the one acting like a dick all morning. Itachi’s tried to talk to you, but all you do is push him away. Just how do you plan to bring up the conversation about what you saw anyway? With the way you’re acting, you’re lucky if he even gives you the time of day afterwards.


Sasuke tightened his lips as they made the turn to a much quieter section of the clinic. It was a shorter hall, with a small nursing station at the end – which was currently empty – several doors that were closed and two benches at either side of the corridor.


“You can both wait here,” Itachi advised; watching again as (predicted) both took the other bench; as if the very notion of sitting close to each other was going to have them engaging in another fight. If this kept up, how the hell was Sasuke going to fit into normal society? Left to him, he really would have loved to stay a little longer to perhaps teach his brother a little more about how good life could be outside Byaku-Shinkyou, but Shisui’s impatience and their need to set their plans in motion would have to take precedence. Sasuke would just have to grow up (all over again) without his help for the most part. His naïve (and hopeful) thinking was that maybe Naruto would become a chaperone in his place, for it seemed like the blond had seen more of the world and could impart his knowledge and wisdom to his younger brother. However, with this ever widening gulf between them...


(pigs might as well fly)


He sighed again. “Doctor Sun Woo will be out soon,” he continued. “His office is that door on the right. He already knows what happened and won’t bother you with any unnecessary questions. I’ll be in the main waiting room. When you’re both ready, you can meet me out there, okay?”


“No problemo,” Naruto said with a mock salute. Sasuke said nothing; his eyes closed and head thrown back to rest against the wall. There was a light sheen of sweat on his forehead; a sign that either his leg was really bothering him or the hobble from front to back of the clinic had taken more of a toll than he’d like to admit. Either way, Itachi hoped that Sun Woo would be able to give the proper medication and treatment he required.


Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.


With Itachi now gone, the silence between Naruto and Sasuke became oppressive. Sasuke kept his eyes closed, though he was still hopelessly aware of the other man sitting across him.


(restless...too damn restless)


Naruto couldn’t be still for more than a minute. If it wasn’t his butt squeaking across the bench, it was his foot tapping or his fingers drumming or a loud exaggerated sigh or a whistle or a muttered curse or the scratching of his scalp or...


“Cut it out,” Sasuke finally snapped. His lashes flew open and he pinned an annoyed glance at his companion, who looked back with a raised brow and a slow smirk coming to his lips.


“He’s alive after all. All praises to the heavens.”


“Shut up.”


“Make me.”


“I am not going to indulge in your childish games,” Sasuke retorted and closed his eyes again. “You’re just so damn annoying.”


“Says Mr. High and Mighty, who is such a first grade dick.”


Sasuke’s lashes flipped open again. “What was that?”


“You heard me.” Naruto threw up his hands as if in frustration. “I don’t get it. I really don’t. What’s your problem anyway?”


You! Sasuke’s mind roared, but he kept his mouth stubbornly shut.


“You’ve got a brother who’s worried about you, and all you do is treat him like shit. I guess that slap on the boat didn’t do the trick after all. If I were him, I’d put you over my knee and spank the living hell out of you.”


Sasuke flushed at the brief mental image this conjured up before kicking himself mentally. “Do not speak to me like that, you -”


“What? Sinner? Was that what you were going to say? Hey, buddy.” Naruto sneered. “News flash. We’re no longer in that place, remember?”


Sasuke’s eyes narrowed. “So?”


“So? Out here, we’re equals. No more officer versus ‘sinner’,” he said with a quote of the air with his fingers. “We’re both fugitives, so you might as well start getting used to it. If my ass is caught, your ass is dead meat too.”


“We might be fugitives, but I will never be your equal.”


“Because you think you’re better than me?” Naruto asked darkly. “Because I wasn’t born as some shitty elite? Is that it?”


“This has nothing to do with being an elite or not,” came the clipped reply. “I have only one goal in mind and that is to defeat Orochimaru and Danzo and claim back what is rightfully mine...ours. Once order is restored, I will not hesitate to finish what I started with you, Uzumaki Naruto. Do not forget you are still a criminal for the murder of another human being -”


“Says the person who’s killed others all in the name of some shitty practice.”


Sasuke took a deep breath and tried to control himself. “Listen -”


“Say?” Naruto interrupted with a snap of his fingers as if a bright idea had suddenly occurred to him. “When you are done killing Orochimaru and Danzo, how about you kill yourself too? Commit seppuku or something. It will only be fair, won’t it? You’re killing them for revenge, aren’t you? For the shit they did to your family and your girlfriend, right?” He leaned forward and grinned. “It’s just like me then. I killed off Kojima for revenge, so what makes your situation any different from mine?”


What indeed.


Naruto seemed to be waiting; those faux hazel eyes gleaming with a knowledge that sent Sasuke’s heart pounding with the realization that Naruto was right on all levels. What made his need to eliminate those two men from Naruto’s decision to rid the world of the man who took the only person he loved? How much of a hypocrite did that make him?


“See?” Naruto sat back with a smug expression of satisfaction. “You’re thinking about it now, aren’t you? Good. Glad to see you’re not about to spill some of your religious, self-righteous crap on me again.”


However, just as sudden as it appeared, the smug expression dissipated to be replaced with a pensive look as he lifted his gaze to the ceiling. “Look...I don’t like you, you don’t like me. That’s just something we’re going to have to try to deal with or manage as best as possible until things settle down. So...” He lowered his gaze to pin it on Sasuke. “How about we call a truce of sorts. We don’t snap at each other and try to have a civilized conversation, eh? I swear you have no idea how much it takes just to think up something nice to say to you.”


“Likewise,” Sasuke replied wryly. “I think I expend way too much energy just considering the notion of speaking to you.”


“So...truce?” Naruto gave his first real genuine smile of the morning.


Every instinct within Sasuke screamed for him to reject this proposal; that Naruto was only mocking him and would turn around and laugh behind his back at being so gullible. Allowing Naruto to dictate their relationship was only going to make him vulnerable and he couldn’t relinquish his fastidious desire to remain in control of any situation they found themselves in. He had been the leader of others for so long; never knowing how to really communicate other than giving orders or accepting them, how the hell was he to conduct a proper conversation with someone like Naruto?


What was a normal conversation like? Like the few he had with Asuma? But even then, there had always been a little ‘barrier’ between them. With Naruto...they were practically the same age. What could they possibly talk about?


He noticed the blond’s smile was wavering; an uncertainty and that familiar look of impatience about to fill his features. Sasuke knew he’d have to make his decision quickly; if he wanted to ‘try’ to become more civil with Naruto. He just wished his damn heart would stop beating so fucking fast.




...and just as he opened his mouth to seal his fate, the door to the doctor’s office opened to reveal the flushed but friendly features of a portly man in his forties.


“Ah, you must be my patients,” Dr. Woo greeted in flawless Japanese. “Well then, who do I have the pleasure of dealing with first?”


“Him,” Naruto offered much to Sasuke’s surprise. He was sure the blond would want to go first and get it over and done with. “He’s been sweating so much. I think the leg’s bothering him.”


Sasuke’s eyes widened. How did he...?


“Hmmm...good observation,” Woo replied as he peered into Sasuke’s flustered features. “Well then, young man. Let’s this show going, eh? Come with me.”


Once in the examining room, which he was surprised to see had quite a few state-of-the-art equipment you would see in a much bigger hospital; Sasuke was still trying to come to terms with Naruto’s surprising statement. He was sure he had managed to mask his agony from everyone, all thanks to bumping the side of the sink in the bathroom a little too hard earlier. His cry of pain was hidden with a bite of his upper arm; stifling the cry while tears sprang to his eyes and he nearly fell to a floor that was far from completely hygienic. It was one of the reasons he had remained in the bathroom for so long because he literally could not move a muscle for a while. He had watched in horror as a spot of blood blossomed and began to spread as he lifted his shorts to examine the damage; a sign that whatever healing might have started was not going to be as fast as he would like.


“Well, whoever did the first treatment must be commended for a job well done,” Woo was saying as he and his assistant nurse began to remove the soiled dressings, while numbing the area with an injection to properly access the damage. “No signs of compartment syndrome and you are able to flex your toes all right? Yes? Circulation is good, yes?”


Sasuke did as he was told and the doctor nodded in satisfaction. As Woo began asking questions about any symptoms of dizziness or fainting experienced, all Sasuke longed to know was when he’d be able to walk properly again.


“Ah, that,” Woo replied when the question was finally posed. “I would like to take an x-ray actually just to see the extent of the wound; although from what I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like you’re going to be in any real mortal danger. If you don’t put too much strain on it for the next few days, before you can begin your physical therapy, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be done with that thing...”


‘That thing’ being the crutch.


“ about eight weeks...if not less.”


Eight weeks? That was an eternity!


“Now then, lie still and let us do the x-ray and finish up the stitching and dressing, eh?”


As Sasuke resigned himself to his fate, Naruto waited outside with a dull sense of humiliation and disbelief at what had transpired earlier. Just what the hell had he been thinking offering a truce to that bastard anyway? Of course Sasuke wouldn’t just say “oh yes! let’s be friends now! Let’s shake hands and sing off into the sunset.” That would have been so out of character for a guy who only knew the words “Gudan!” or “Do as I say or get your head whacked!”


Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


He should have known with the way Sasuke’s eyes had become watchful and guarded; should have known from the body language with the way he had stiffened at the offer. There was just no way to relax around a guy like that; no way at all. He definitely hadn’t been kidding when he told Sasuke that just ‘thinking’ about something decent to say to him was a headache-inducing exercise.


“Is he inside?” came the sudden soft question that had him looking up with a start of surprise.


Itachi was leaning against the wall at the corner where this hall led to the main one. In the brighter noon light, Naruto could clearly see the strain on the older brother’s features, and for some reason, his heart clenched with pity for him. He had no idea what Itachi must have gone through in his life, but really...Naruto was sure he would have wanted to be in the room with his baby brother right now; maybe to give him support or something. However, with the way Sasuke’s been acting...


“Yeah, just took him in,” he replied with a small smile. “Come sit down. You don’t have to stand there.”


“Thanks for the offer,” Itachi replied with a matching smile. Unlike Sasuke, he had no qualms sitting right beside Naruto, and the blond found himself glad for that. For a long minute, they sat in companionable silence, though Itachi was leaning forward with his hands clasped tightly between his spread thighs; that same strained expression still on his visage.


“I hope he’ll be able to walk properly again,” he finally admitted quietly, and Naruto winced at the insinuation. Technically, it was his fault for that wound, but then again, his shoulder was not exactly a hundred percent either. Where was his pity?


“I hope your shoulder gets better too,” Itachi added with a twitch of his lips that had the blond’s features reddening as if his thoughts had been read. “You both really did a number on each other, didn’t you?”


“We had to,” Naruto replied with a pout. “One of us had to die, remember?”


“True. Very true...and I’m glad you spared his life, Naruto. I really am.”


Naruto felt his entire being burn with embarrassment at the sincere look of gratitude thrown his way. He scratched the bridge of his nose and tried to look at any place but those dark eyes that seemed to see right through his soul.


“Meh...didn’t see a need for it,” he muttered bashfully. “Since he was technically down and out. I swear that Snake Dude was just...brr.” He shuddered at the recollection of that bastard’s clammy touch on his skin back in the dojo and the way those eyes had looked so serpentine and evil-ish.


“I know what you mean,” Itachi agreed. “Orochimaru’s tastes are...different to say the least.”


“No kidding.”


Another comfortable silence fell...only this time, there seemed to be a lot of questions hidden within; questions that both men were eager to query each other about and none was sure of where to begin. Finally, Itachi took the initiative and cleared his throat.


“Can I be open with you, Naruto?”




“Can I ask you a few questions if you don’t mind?”




Itachi sighed and rubbed his temple gently. “Be honest with me...have you contemplated leaving us at any point in time?”


Naruto started as if goosed, eyes widening in surprise before lowering his gaze and biting his lower lip hard. What the hell could he say? Yes, he had planned on doing it, but he sure as hell hadn’t expected Itachi to have noticed it already. Sheesh. This dude was way too sharp.


“You don’t have to answer me, I figured out already,” came the quiet reply. “I would have thought the same thing if I was in your position. Trust me. I understand where you are coming from. This is not your fight, and you have no stake in the matter, correct?”


“That’s about right...”


“But what will you do when you leave? Have you thought about that?”


“I’ll do like I’ve always done,” Naruto replied with a shrug. “Become a journeyman again. Wander from place to place until I save up enough money to maybe hide out in Europe for a while. I know Orochimaru still wants my head because I’m an escaped convict...”


“Let’s not forget the Bakufu.”


“Wha...? I have no business with them anymore.”


Itachi gave a wan smile. “If Orochimaru’s forces cannot find you, do you not think he’ll seek their help to root you out again? When they realize you’re still alive, they’re no doubt going to seek their revenge on Kojima’s death.”


“You knew Kojima?!” Naruto asked incredulously.


“Not personally, but Asuma did tell me particulars about your case, which was quite tragic. I am sorry for the loss of your girlfriend.”


Naruto shrugged lightly; wondering why the hell Asuma felt it necessary to tell every damn person about his personal affairs. “It’s cool. It happened a long time ago anyway.”


(three years and counting...and sometimes it still feels like it was only yesterday)


“I did a background check on Masataka Kojima and found out something quite interesting.”


“What’s that?”


“He was apparently the nephew of Ryoichi Ikegami.” When Naruto looked blank at the name, Itachi expounded. “He is the current kumichō of the Bakufu Syndicate.”


Naruto’s features drained of color and he felt his heart slam hard within his chest. No...fucking...way! “Are you serious?” he asked in a voice that sounded small and distant. “Are you sure it’s that same Kojima?”


“No mistaking it. He is the son of Ikegami’s youngest sister who passed away at childbirth. Ikegami raised Kojima as his son and was hoping he’d end up becoming a first lieutenant, but as you already know...Kojima did things his own way.”


“Which is why he was never ‘made’,” Naruto muttered to himself; recalling all the drunken rants and raves from Kojima while he cursed his uncle (apparently) over not seeing his potential. It was all making sense now.


“So you took the life of not just any member of the Bakufu, but the ‘son’ of its head. If they discover you’re still alive and well...”


“All the more reason why I have to get the fuck away from here as far as possible and –


“And keep running away for the rest of your life, Naruto?” came the quiet question that halted his panicked thoughts. “Is that a way for anyone to live? To keep hiding in the shadows, always wondering when you’ll be caught? I lived like that for almost ten years, Naruto, and I realized I was doing more harm than good. Look at what my cowardice did to my brother...what he has become.”


His hands tightened even more as his pained gaze was now trained to the floor. “It’s why I’ve made the decision to fight this time instead of waiting in the wings. It’s why I have to leave him again, just so he can finally be free. It is why I am about to ask something quite selfish of me, Naruto.”


“...what?” came the wary question. He didn’t want to look into those eyes that were now pleading silently with him, and almost before Itachi opened his mouth, Naruto already had an idea of where this was going. “You want me to stay with your brother...and kinda protect him, right? Is that what you’re gonna say?”


“My brother knows nothing of the real world per se, even you must have noticed that,” Itachi replied. “His thinking and principles are archaic and distorted; no thanks to the life he must have lived under Orochimaru’s thumb. Asuma did as best he could under the circumstances, and we are lucky he has been able to maintain some sort of humanity beneath the thick layers of self-righteousness and obligation to what quantifies as Sin and Redemption. I will not be around long enough to transition him to to speak, and I will need someone in my place. Haku, you know will and cannot do the job since he is so loyal to Sasuke. Shikamaru might be willing to help, but it is obvious that the connection between the two is minimal if anything else...”


“So me, right? Me the sinner who almost killed him and who wants to get the hell out of dodge has to stick around to be his babysitter?”


Itachi smiled. “You will both be each other’s babysitters.”




“If you stick together...all of you not think it’s better chances of defeating any random enemies that come at you, than going at it alone? Also, I think that deep down inside...we all long for companionship and that feeling of being a part of something close and meaningful. So even if you cannot stand my brother, eventually you’ll come to consider Haku, Shikamaru and even Karin, a part of your new family. At least that is my lofty hope.”


Naruto sighed and ruffled his hair in frustration. “’re really putting me in a tight spot, man. I really don’t want to hang around if I don’t have to, but with that story you just told me about Kojima and his uncle...” He sighed again and lowered his head in resignation. “I get your point. But only until this whole thing is done...until he gets his revenge or whatever. After that, I’m gone, get it?”


Itachi’s smile broadened. “That’s fine with me, Naruto. By then...hopefully, he’ll will have the mercy to remove your name from the criminal records and set you free.”


“Eh?” Naruto raised his brow. “So you don’t want to be in charge of the watchdogs when it’s done?”


Itachi shook his head lightly. “Do you think I deserve to be its head?”


“ are the older brother...”


“True, but Sasuke knows more about it than I do, and I have no doubt he’ll make a great leader when the time comes. He’s been through hell and back for that place, and deserves to rebuild it to our father’s and ancestors’ design.” At the skeptical look Naruto gave him, Itachi explained with a soft chuckle. “Byaku-Shinkyou had only a few dungeons for the most hardened of criminals, not the labyrinth Orochimaru has built today. We never performed Gudan either. Prisoners were either sent to the electric chair as ordered by the courts or given a lethal injection. We had no torture chambers and there was no arena built to behead sinners. Byaku-Shinkyou despite its prisons; was a beautiful place where the Uchiha lived and flourished for centuries. Orochimaru has tainted its original purpose and that is what Sasuke has to recover and rebuild when he’s in charge. If I am still alive by then...I will be more than willing to help as an advisor if he wants me to.”


“What...what do you mean if you’re still alive?” Naruto asked through lips that felt dry. “You’re going to make it through this. You’ve lived this long, why should anything stop you now?”


“Because I’d be a fool to imagine that everything would go that smoothly in this next step. I am under no illusions that there is a very big target on my back, and if it means taking the bullet for my brother, I’ll do it to get him to achieve his goal.”


Naruto tried to swallow the hard lump that came to his throat while kicking himself inwardly for even getting emotional at something like this. It wasn’t as if Itachi was his brother or anything; and there was really no reason for him to get this sentimental for someone he hardly knew...and yet he couldn’t help it. The thought of this guy...this guy who was one of the nicest people he had ever met...dying over something so stupid.


“I don’t get it,” he whispered thickly. “I don’t get why all the good folks have to die over something up.”


Itachi reached out to pat Naruto’s head gently. “Life sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?”


Naruto sniffled and nodded. “ don’t need to tell me that. I could write a book about it.”


“And I’d read every single word.”


They shared a light giggle before the sounds of voices and the eventual click of the door leading to Dr. Woo’s office opened. Sasuke was being led out by the doctor and his nurse, and the guy looked a little out of it.


“Gave him some painkillers, so he’s going to be a little on the fuzzy side for a while,” Woo explained with a chuckle as Itachi reached out to take over. He began giving the older Uchiha a rundown of the treatments carried out as well as what to expect for the future.


Sasuke, who was definitely feeling light-headed, had no strength to tell Itachi to fuck off or to leave him alone. He willingly sank onto the bench beside his brother and leaned his head back to gather himself. He could vaguely hear someone saying ‘it’s my turn!” as if about to go get some candy and a bubble of hysterical laughter threatened to erupt from his gut.


( silly)


Unfortunately, it felt as if he was going to throw up instead, and he had to lean even further back to control the urge.


“Relax...” came the familiar soft voice that was a million miles away. “Just breathe deeply and it will pass.”


It was Itachi, wasn’t it? That voice...he could recognize it anywhere. Which only reminded him of something he had been meaning to ask all day.




Why? Came the fuzzy thought laced with distorted images of two men lying on a futon in an embrace. Why?






“Hmm? What’s that Sasuke?”


“Why?” Good grief. His voice sounded like he had a million cotton balls in his mouth. He could barely hear himself speak. “”


It’s okay, Sasuke. You’re just talking from the effects of the drugs. Just try to...”


Sasuke slapped away the hand that had tried to touch his forehead. He shook his head and tried to stop seeing two of his brothers. He had to clear his find out why his brother was the way he was. Wasn’t that why they had come here in the first place? To talk things out? Yes, that’s right. They had to talk things out. Like brothers do.


“You...Shisui...” He coughed and took a deep breath. Man, the medication felt soooo fucking good. He could feel no pain...nothing at all. “Hugging...why...?”


Itachi was confused at this line of conversation. “What are you talking about, Sasuke?” Were the drugs really that potent? He eyed the small white paper bag Woo had given him, which was filled with prescription pain killers to help his brother. If there was any hallucinogenic in here, he was going to kill Sun Woo -

“You and Shisui were together in bed,” Sasuke finally managed to blurt out a complete sentence. He tried to look angry, but his expression only came across as confused and slightly bewildered. “Why? Were you two in bed...together?”


The older was still a bit in the dark about the seemingly random question, when it suddenly clicked. Shisui had mentioned seeing Sasuke outside the door first thing in the morning, hadn’t he? Sasuke had been acting as if they were both spawns of the devil all morning, hadn’t he? It could only mean that...




“This isn’t the time to discuss this,” Itachi said quietly, while thinking fast on how to diffuse would could potentially be a explosive argument. “When you’re sober and more in control of your thought processes, I will be glad to explain what you might or might not have seen.”


“..sin...” Sasuke slurred as his head drooped as if suddenly too heavy to stay on his shoulders. “It’s...a two...disgusting...”


Itachi winced inwardly and, not for the first time, cursed Orochimaru for what he had done to warp his brother’s mind. “I’m sorry you feel that way, Sasuke. I-”


“Don’t touch”




(we are all and I...)


“Hate you...and Shisui...”


The name came out as a hiss before Sasuke finally succumbed to the effects of the drug with a heavy thump against his brother’s chest as he passed out. For a long minute, Itachi could only look into the features in repose, before feeling his heart break as a lone tear escaped the corner of his brother’s eyes. He wiped it away gently and tasted its bitterness; vowing with all his heart that he would do his best to make his brother see that the concept of love and devotion did not have to come with pain and misery.


Love was not disgusting or a sin and it was about time Uchiha Sasuke learned of how beautiful, honest, and sincere that potent emotion could be.



Chapter 20

Naruto Home


























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