Chapter 34

Shifting Tides


The depths of the hearts
Of humankind cannot be known.
But in my birthplace
The plum blossoms smell the same
As in the years gone by.

-       Ki no Tsurayuki




He stared at the coded printout with growing distaste in his mouth, fingers clutching the piece of paper so tight it threatened to rip in half with the pressure being inflicted upon it. There had never been any cause to doubt Sai’s devotion and loyalty to his role as a member of Orochimaru’s secret watchdog team (his impressive track record was more than enough proof). However, one had to wonder just what the hell that young man was thinking (or doing for that matter) with the cryptic and vague reports he had been sending in so far.


Mistaken targets today. Surveillance continued.

 Intercepted calls reveal no ‘outside’ communication at this time.

Will update 0530hrs.


Time and time again, it was the same thing: “No new updates/nothing much to report” or worse yet, Sai would give a blasé rundown of all the boring activities he had done in his quest to be close to the supposed targets’ whereabouts. In summary, besides the knowledge that Sasuke and his cohorts were probably in Buk-gu, South Korea, Kimimaro knew next to nothing about what was really going on. Three weeks on the mission and this was all he had to work with!




It was why he had made the last minute decision to send Ginkaku and Kinkaku – two fellow members of the secret police – to spy on Sai. Both huge and intimidating at first glance, the Honshū-bred brothers were a cohesive veteran unit that guaranteed results when put to the task. They were yet to fail a mission and Kimimaro’s hope was that they’d be able to observe, not just Sai’s actions, but the others as well and to deliver the information he desperately required.


Though Orochimaru had not authorized this move, Kimimaro knew that his master’s loud silence on the matter was nothing more than an admonishment at the failure (so far) of this so-called mission. If Kimimaro was unable to produce anything worthwhile within the next week, he had no doubt Orochimaru would take matters into his hands and send in a troop to wipe them out without a second thought.


He was becoming more and more restless (volatile), his impatience revealed in his latest order to burn down a small village just off the coast where he ‘believed’ several members of the Uchiha clan resided. Despite Kimimaro’s concern that the report they had received from the spy was nothing more than pure speculation, Orochimaru wasn’t one to take any chances. In his mind, he was sure that the remaining Uchiha (some of whom were still in hiding all over the country) were now building an army against him; an army that would arrive any day now to destroy his daily fortified fortress.


He is slowly going insane, Kimimaro thought bitterly, but not without a trace of fear in his heart. Orochimaru’s actions had always been deliberate and well thought out in the past, but it seemed that recently he was prone to making rash and questionable decisions. It took so little to set him off these days, and though Kimimaro had been spared being used as a ‘punching bag’ in the bedroom to vent off his frustrations, it still didn’t lessen the uneasiness he felt whenever in the older man’s presence.


One day he’ll finally snap and I’ll be the one being buried in the mass grave in the mountains. It’s only a matter of time.


He shuddered at the thought and shook his head lightly. It was why he had to make sure Gin and Kin returned with some kind of information that would make this all a little more bearable. He had to give Orochimaru something or else –


“Ah, so this is where you are. Surprising.”


Slipping the printout quickly beneath a pile of scrolls on the desk, he spun around with a frown on his features. To his chagrin, it was the smug-faced new recruit that Orochimaru had favored as his current bed partner; though from the stories he had heard so far, this Suigetsu was just as stubborn as Sasuke had been. His agitation grew as he watched the silver-haired man lean lazily against the screen door, hands tucked into the obi of his kimono as he chewed absently on what looked like a long piece of grass. His hooded violet gaze traveled over the flushed features of the older man before an annoying smirk came onto his lips; as if perhaps aware of what Kimimaro was hiding.


Kimimaro loathed him even more.


“What do you want, Hōzuki?” he grated through clenched teeth.


“The sent me to get you,” Suigetsu drawled. His lips parted to reveal razor-like teeth as he grinned. “Thought you’d be stuck with Jūgo as always, but guess not. Anyway...whatcha reading?”


“Get out of here,” Kimimaro retorted icily. “You seem to forget your place, Officer.” He spun back to face his desk, making a show of rolling up some scrolls. “Let Orochimaru-sama know I’ll be there shortly.”


He couldn’t see Suigetsu’s reaction, but it still didn’t prevent the hairs at the back of his neck from prickling with awareness. He had no doubt the insolent fool was laughing silently.


“Sure, sure, whatever you say, boss,” Suigetsu gloated before giving a low whistle as if in appreciation of something. “Hmm...nice night for a good fire, won’t you say?”


Kimimaro, too aggravated to understand Suigetsu’s random observation, rolled his eyes and gave an inner sigh. “Get out of my office, Hōzuki.”


“All right, all right, I’m gone. Man. What’s it gonna take to have a decent conversation around here?”


Gratefully, he didn’t wait for an answer or Kimimaro was definitely going to let him have it. He waited until the shuffling feet faded away before relaxing shoulders he had not been aware were tensed all this time. He slid out the coded print-out and ripped it to shreds, but not before making a mental note to have a tele-conference with Gin and Kin tonight for an update.


Time was running out, and no one knew that better than Kaguya Kimimaro.




Hidden within the shadows of the massive trees in the vicinity, Suigetsu watched him make his way across the compound and toward Orochimaru’s quarters. He plucked the long piece of grass from his mouth and absently spat out the juices his chewing had formed on his tongue and teeth.


That fucking faggot, he thought bitterly with a roll of his neck to ease the muscles there. He caressed the hilt of his katana, imagining its sharp blade buried deep into a meaty portion of Kimimaro’s flesh.


His head...yeah, would have been a clean cut when he turned around back then...


He spat again and ran his tongue across his teeth slowly, brows creasing in thought. Many an opportunity had presented itself to take out the bastard, but everything had to go according to plan, didn’t it? However, he knew his anger was displaced, for his real fury was reserved for the freak-show known as Orochimaru.


He shuddered and bared his teeth at the memory of the first night spent in that man’s bedroom.


Suigetsu had assumed Orochimaru had only wanted to ask him questions about his background and all that protocol shit. Akatsuki had trained them well enough to produce a believable and watertight tale that even one as astute as Orochimaru would be unable to poke holes through. Bracing himself for the interrogation, Suigetsu had instead found himself being offered (and considering how thirsty he was at the time) a sweet-tasting beverage, which he downed without questioning. Several minutes (hours?) later, he had woken up naked amongst silk sheets, blankets and the softest of pillows with a soreness in his lower region that was inexplicable.


Only when he tried to sit up (and damn if his head wasn’t about to split in two), did he finally notice the caked maroon-colored blood which had run down the back of his thighs and to his shin. Considering he had a high tolerance for pain and been in his share of fights in the past, seeing his blood was nothing to be shocked about. It was where it came from that had his insides turning icy and a fury unlike anything he had ever experienced superseding the flush of humiliation at what it implied.


He had been violated in the worst way possible.


That sick son-of-a-bitch had drugged him and taken his the ass!


Orochimaru couldn’t have chosen or thought of a better way to demoralize Suigetsu’s spirit, except he had grossly underestimated his newest victim. Still under the effects of the drug, which made everything he did appear to be in slow motion, Suigetsu had mustered enough strength to reach for one of the ornate wooden decors beside the large bed (it looked like two snakes bowing in homage to each other) just as Orochimaru made the mistake of parting the sheer curtains around the four-poster bed to reveal himself. He was just fast enough to avoid a head-on collision with the flying object, but still suffered a deep gash to his temple before it smashed loudly into a table laden with silver and gold dishes. Pieces of meat and fish, fresh fruits and some congealed concoction he couldn’t make out, scattered all over rich Persian rugs and created an unsightly mess that neither man noticed.


“You bastard,” Suigetsu panted harshly. God, how weak and ‘heavy’ he felt. He tried to rise to his feet (or knees at least), but whatever drug this asshole had administered had him collapsing back to the bed in exhaustion.


“Every bit as fiery as I had imagined,” Orochimaru drawled, while darting out a long tongue to lick away the trickle of blood that had flowed down to his lips. He grinned, a feral-like gesture that made Suigetsu’s skin crawl in revulsion. “You almost remind me of Sasuke. His denials before giving into the pleasures of the flesh were always so laughable and delicious to see.”


In a fluid motion, too fast for Suigetsu to see, that was until he felt the cold, slender fingers wrapped around his neck to begin squeezing. His eyes immediately watered while his lungs protested being stifled from its normal functions. He thrashed weakly, the world swimming before him as he struggled to break the tightening grip. For a second, he entertained the idea of being choked to death this way, of his naked, ass-raped body being found lying cold and damaged for the world to ridicule. That thought was enough to give him one last burst of energy to raise an arm high enough as to bury his fingernails into Orochimaru’s upper arm. He raked the pale flesh as hard as he could, smiling inside as his nail beds immediately filled with the warmth of the freak’s blood.


No...not warm...fuck even his goddamn blood feels so fucking cold.


Unfortunately, it was a minor victory that was short lived, for darkness soon overwhelmed him as his body finally gave up the fight.


Suigetsu had no doubt his body had been ravaged again, but at least he was spared from being awake through the proceedings. Still, like a goddamn pet, Orochimaru had refused to let him go back to the Officers’ Mess. He insisted that Suigetsu be in one of the spare rooms in his lavish quarters, and though he had assumed that Orochimaru would want him to warm his bed every other fucking night, Suigetsu was mercifully spared the torture. For a while now, Orochimaru seemed too preoccupied with things and simply used Suigetsu as an errand boy of sorts. Besides Suigetsu got the feeling Orochimaru had gone back to using Kimimaro for his weird bedroom activities, which was more than fine with him.


He scratched at a bite on his arm and spat again in displeasure. Being ‘outside’ like this was a rare opportunity in itself, and he was determined to make it worth his while. He would show that freak show a thing or two, for while Orochimaru had been busy buried in his problems, he was working hard behind the -


“Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?” came the sudden quiet question that had Suigetsu stiffening in response. He hadn’t even heard Jūgo approach, but then again, for such a big guy, he could be incredibly light on his feet. He didn’t need to turn around to know that Jūgo was behind him, hidden from view. It would give anyone passing by that both men were simply lounging against a tree and admiring the stars instead of engaging in conversation.


“Is everything set?” Suigetsu asked. He rubbed the grass between his fingers.


“Just about,” Jūgo replied. “Kiba is putting the finishing touches...although...”


“...what?” Suigetsu asked impatiently.


“Itachi-san did not order this, did he?” Jūgo asked quietly. “What we’re doing...if they trace it back to us -”


“They won’t,” Suigetsu retorted sharply. “It’s going to look like a stupid accident by one of those goddamn prisoners. I don’t know what Itachi’s planning, but sitting around doing nothing ain’t helping matters. We’ve already received the blueprints, so we know exactly the locations to target. We set some of those places on fire tonight, and Orochimaru’s gonna cream his pants like the fucked up pansy he is. The more he builds, the more we destroy. End of story.” Jūgo was spared from seeing the dangerous glint in Suigetsu’s eyes. It almost made him look insane. “I’m gonna make that son-of-a-bitch pay in my own way.”


“Yes, but -”


“You’re not getting cold feet on me, are you?” Suigetsu asked with a hard edge in his tone. “Or has your relationship with that white-haired fairy muddled your brain already?”


There was a tense minute of silent before a barely audible “no” filled the air.


Suigetsu rolled his eyes and expelled a breath of frustration. “Dude. Do not forget why we were sent here in the first place. I know faggot boy’s your best buddy and all, but Christ! He’s the one responsible for killing half of everyone you know. Be his fuck buddy, get all the information you can from him, but don’t get too emotionally attached and fuck this up for the rest of us. Got it?”


He pushed himself away from the tree and stretched his arms above his head. He stared into the night sky and allowed a cold smile to come to his lips. Screw Jūgo and his sentimental feelings. Nothing was going to prevent him from accomplishing his goals even if it involved a few scapegoats (sacrifices) in the process.


“Yep,” he said with a firm nod and a big inhalation of breath. “Looks like the perfect night for a great big inferno. Burn, baby. Burn!






Seeing Jiraiya was a shock to the senses in more ways than one.


I had assumed he’d be arriving later in the day, but stepping out of the van only to behold his intimidating yet inviting presence as he waited with Jae Weong at the entrance to the complex, created a flood of emotions that would have embarrassed me otherwise. That familiar shock of white lion mane hair, the dark eyes that seemed to know so much, those unexplainable red streaks on his cheeks, the small crooked smile, the ridiculous traditional garb he seemed insistent on wearing (wooden sandals included), and the way he waved at me in acknowledgement. Perhaps it was the pent up emotions of the past twenty-four hours finally gushing to the surface or maybe I was just a pathetic weakling deep down inside. Whatever it was, I threw all caution to the wind and found myself flying into his arms like a goddamn kid to hug the living daylights out of him.


Man, he smelled so good.


(being home again)


I guess I took him by surprise (well yeah I doubt he was expecting that) thanks to the grunt he gave as I all but sent us toppling to the ground. I fully expected him to push me away, to tell me that I was behaving childishly and I ought to be more in control of myself, but nothing of the sort happened. Those strong arms wrapped around me in an embrace I had always longed for; a hug only a father could give and one that was denied to me since the day I was born.


Helplessly, I sobbed against his chest; hard and fast the tears wouldn’t stop as I finally let it all out. Like a really bad horror movie, the events of the past night rushed through my mind in rapid clips. I could still see Haku’s bloodied body as we finally found him at the bus stop, could still feel how cold and fragile he had felt in my arms, could recall  how much I prayed that we had made it in time, and the endless agonizing wait as Dr. Woo performed surgery. There was so much I wanted to tell Jiraiya, but the words remained stubbornly lodged in my throat and wouldn’t budge.


I didn’t quite catch what he said to Jae Weong, but with a gentle squeeze of my shoulders, he led me into the building and away from any prying eyes. In the elevator, he kept his arms around me; not letting me go until we came to my apartment and requested for my keys.


“Let’s get you cleaned up at least,” he said once we were in the safety of a room that felt almost alien to me. Seems like a damn eternity since I was last in it. “Those blood stains look morbid, eh?”


His smile had me nodding and sniffling. I tried to manage a matching expression, but I now felt hollow, drained and downright exhausted. I hadn’t slept all night, only being able to catch a light doze on the drive back to the apartment and that was it. Still, I obeyed without an argument and soon found myself alone in the bathroom to muddle through the events of the past few hours all over again.




A day that had started out with good intentions - in making sure Haku was safe  - had turned out to be the exact opposite. I guess I could see why Sasuke was feeling so much guilt over it because I felt partly responsible as well. If he hadn’t sent Haku on the ‘date’ in the first place, if I hadn’t shown up to mess up his plans, if Yoona hadn’t shown up to disrupt our stake-out at the arcade, if we hadn’t left those two with the naïve assumption that everything would turn out okay without our butting in...Haku might be with us right now giving us a rundown of how his day had gone instead of lying in a bed stuck with IVs and doing his best to survive.




I pounded my thigh with a fist; hard enough to have me biting my lower lip to stifle my cry of pain. So yes, the litany of ‘what ifs’ could go on until I turned blue in the face, but what good would it do to sit here moping over what might or might not have been? Haku was at least still alive –


(for now)


...and there was no doubt information he carried with him that would be beneficial to knowing who and what Sai was really all about. One thing was for sure though, Sai was most definitely dead. Cha Seung had returned to the scene of the crime (while we were at the clinic) and told me he had spotted five dead bodies in the alley. His descriptions had included three other men, a woman and then Sai. Were the three men a member of Sai’s team? Had they been sent as well to spy on us? And if so, just how many more were there probably now seeking our heads? Cha had reassured me that there was no one else he had noticed in the alley at the time, but at this hour, there was no way folks who lived in the buildings around the area wouldn’t notice the carnage before the police were involved.


We are no longer safe here.


Wasn’t that what Itachi had said on the phone yesterday? With Jiraiya here, there was no denying the urgency for us to be on the next boat back to Japan. I had no idea how Haku’s condition would make this possible, but I did have a feeling that my time (at least) was bound to be up soon. If Jiraiya was ready to take me away first...who was I to say no?


/ Come back to me. Do you hear me? Come back to me, Naruto, or I will never forgive you. /


I felt the rush of heat creep up my neck to suffuse my features as Sasuke’s impassioned plea (order) filled my mind. It was yet another reminder of just how ‘close’ we had become in the past few hours all thanks to this incident. Ironic that it would have to take someone we both cared about getting hurt to make us realize just how much we needed each other after all. If I tried to take the positive out of the night, it would be that leaving Sai and Haku alone had given Sasuke and me the opportunity to finally get things out in the open. I had no idea if my declaration to give us another chance meant that he was now technically my ‘boyfriend’ -


(sounds fucking weird to be honest)


But whatever it was between us, I liked it even more now. The way he had allowed me to hold him at the clinic and to comfort him in his time of grief, had revealed a side of Sasuke I didn’t know was possible. Maybe it was indeed due to the enormity of the situation that he was willing to give in so easily, or I’m sure in normal circumstances, Hell would freeze over before he allowed me to see him crying or going as far as kissing his damn tears away. That was the sort of stuff you did for the ladies to make them feel better. There was no manual that said the same routine would work for the guys, but hey! so far so good.


/ Come back to me... /


“I will,” I whispered into the silence broken only by the solemn drip drip drip of the faucet and my feet sliding against the wet tiles gently. “I promise...when this whole thing is over, I’ll come back to you, Sasuke.”


Little would I know how true my statement would turn out to be, for Jiraiya did not mince words once I was back in the apartment, dressed and now eating a sandwich he had whipped up from somewhere.


“I have spoken to Itachi about the situation,” he mused with a light frown on his features. He was sitting across me on the floor, arms folded across his broad chest. “And we both agreed that you and I will have to leave for Kyoto first thing in the morning...tomorrow morning that is.”


The sandwich felt like it was going the wrong way and I had to pound my chest hard to get it down to my stomach. When I felt I could breathe again, I managed to squeak out a dumb “Huh?” to which he nodded and repeated himself.


“I know it’s sudden, but slow and easy does it with the transition. As you well know, Haku cannot leave at this time, so the plan is to keep him here with Karin and Shikamaru -”


“Shikamaru’s coming with me,” I interrupted with a firm nod. Jiraiya raised a brow but only gave a light shrug as if he had been expecting this.


“Fine,” he continued, while rubbing his chin in thought. “You and Shikamaru will leave with me first thing tomorrow morning before the break of dawn. The next night, Kisame will be here to pick up Sasuke.”




“He’s a good friend of Itachi and Shisui’s...a very valuable member of Akatsuki. They should be heading to Tokyo to meet up with his brother and whatever plans they have from there will be established. When Haku is awake enough, then we’ll send for the trio to meet up with Itachi in Tokyo as well.” He leaned toward me, those dark eyes earnest and intense. “When we get to Kyoto, I will do my best to groom you properly before  you have your rendezvous with Danzo. I know Sergei has taught you as best he could, but it’s what’s up here.” He tapped his temple gently. “That will have to be strengthened a little more.”


He must have noticed my panic -


/ To become an assassin is to be devoid of any human emotion when it comes to a kill. Leave all regrets and doubts before you begin a mission. You have one task and only one opportunity to eliminate the target with zero room for error. A mind clear and free from any and all convoluted thoughts is crucial. Be as still and in control as the weapon within your hands. Remember – at all times – that you are an unseen presence to your target.  You are the shadows. You are nothing but the wind. /


...because he gave a small smile and reached out to tap my nose gently.


“It is not going to be easy, Naruto,” he admitted ruefully. “People like you who have such good hearts deep down within and always try to see the good in others, it might take some getting used become a callous human machine. However, just try to remind yourself that this is not going to be permanent, that you are only doing this to achieve a set goal and you must fight and struggle against the forces of darkness that might become too much of a temptation if you fall in too deep. True strength doesn’t come from just knowing how to wield a sword or shoot a gun. It comes from here.” He tapped my chest gently. “And here.” My forehead was tapped as well. “Use both wisely and you’ll succeed, all right?”


I nodded and chewed thoughtfully on my meal; my mind already racing with the incoming scenarios and possibilities. In a short period of time, I’ll be back in my homeland, but no longer a fugitive. I’ll become something I had once cringed about and loathed with a passion, but as Jiraiya had said, I had a reason for doing this.


A damn good reason.


Unfortunately, there was something else that nagged at the back of my mind even as I felt the first stirrings of adrenaline coursing through me.


Saying farewell to Sasuke.


Thanks to Jiraiya’s announcement, my naïve assumption that we’d all be leaving at the same time had been burst like a bubble. Knowing now that I had less than twenty-four hours to get myself together and prepare for the long trip back home, knowing that it might take weeks, months, or hell, years! (though I sincerely hoped it wouldn’t be that long) before I ever saw him again, made something within my chest tighten.


It would only make sense that the both of us couldn’t be seen together when we were back in Japan as folks were bound to realize we were ‘working’ as a team. With Danzo’s apparent dislike and wariness about Orochimaru and, of course, Akatsuki, my decision to join his organization was pretty much a guarantee that I was now going to become Akatsuki’s enemy. They would be on my number one target list which would mean –


“...might have to kill them,” I muttered as the horror of the reality hit me like a ton of bricks.


“What’s that you said?” Jiraiya asked with a raised brow. He was in the process of lighting up his pipe.


I bit my lower lip and lowered my gaze to the tatami mat. “I said...if this works out...Danzo might want me to start killing off members of Akatsuki, the very people I’m supposed to be working and helping as a double spy or whatever.”


Jiraiya gave a soft nod of understanding; his eyes filled with regret. “It is an unfortunate reality, but I have no doubt Itachi and Shisui will make plans to see that your ‘killings’ are not in vain.”


I looked up with my brows furrowed in bemusement. “I don’t get it.”


Jiraiya puffed out a cloud of smoke. “In life, we have to make some very difficult decisions, Naruto. Your role as assassin of the Danzo faction is something we have all considered thoroughly. If you prove yourself resourceful enough, he will no doubt give you more targets related to Akatsuki’s goals. You might be required to even take out members of other words those that oppose Danzo’s rise to power. Our hope is that it doesn’t get to that point. We are banking on Danzo setting his sights on Ikegami first, hence you get your opportunity to deal with the kumichō before taking on the other side of things. Even better...that you finally get your one-on-one confrontation with Danzo and eliminate him before he gives you the orders you’d rather not perform. Whichever scenario comes first, Naruto, it is going to be your decision – and difficult it may be – to pull the trigger.”


I took a deep breath and nodded slowly. “I see...”


“Well nothing to worry your head about right now,” Jiraiya interrupted with a light laugh and a slap of his hand upon my shoulder. Ouch! The guy doesn’t know his own strength, does he? “You should try to get some sleep. I have a few phone calls to make. Oh, and where is Shikamaru? He needs to be told of the new developments.”


“Still at the clinic,” I replied. I did want to go back there to see how everyone was doing, but at the mention of “sleep”, my brain was already responding to the sight of my comfortable rolled up futon and waiting pillows.


“All right then,” Jiraiya stated as he rose to his feet and stretched his massive frame. “I’m on my way there. When I return tomorrow morning, it will be to take you back home.” He gave a playful wink, tussled my hair roughly, and with a whistle of some obscure tune beneath his breath, he left the apartment with a quiet close of the door behind him.


Home sweet home, eh?


I spread out my bedding and sprawled upon it with a heavy sigh.


More like “Welcome to Hell version 2.0.”


Still, I knew I’d have to make the best of it. I’d just have to stop by the clinic to say good bye to the others, especially Haku and of course Sasuke. Would suck to have to do that after we had finally established something good between us, but hey...when was life ever fair to either of us, hmm? If I was looking for a goddamn fairy tale, I knew I had stepped into the wrong place.


For Life – when the layers were truly peeled away and ripped apart – was really nothing more than a terrible nightmare.









Haku was still comatose.


I rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands, forcing the prickles of sleep to the wayside. I was sitting on the chair Shikamaru had evacuated earlier (he and the girls had gone to get a bite to eat across the street), and since it was beside Haku’s bed, I was allowed to observe him in repose. In the light of day, he didn’t look quite as pale, and I was glad to see a light flush of colors on his cheeks...even better that his chest was rising and falling steadily.


(still alive)


Dr. Woo’s wife had come in earlier to change the transfusion bags. He was fine with the pints of blood administered overnight, so all that was left to see how well he adjusted. Since the clinic wasn’t usually open on Sundays anyway, it was a blessing that we wouldn’t have to be bothered by other patients taking up Dr. Woo’s time. Call me selfish, but Haku had to be top priority at this time.


On my lap, the two blood-stained bags he had carried with him sat like morbid reminders of the horror he must have experienced yesterday. I set his down to the floor and opened Sai’s to observe its contents again. Besides the now barely distinguishable sketches on the torn pieces of paper, and some other art supplies, I reached for the wallet to investigate properly. Sai had an I.D. card that stated his fake name and a residential address.


(must have lived somewhere, right?)


And if he did live somewhere, it would mean that whatever information he had, regarding his mission, was kept in this place. The logical thing would be to go there and retrieve or at least search the place for any beneficial clues, but I was still wary about others being out there observing our every move. Naruto had wanted to search on his own, but I had talked him out of it. What good would it do me to go against my very warnings and concern?


The sound of the door opening had me looking up sharply. Shikamaru stuck his head in with a small smile. He held up a bottle of soda and a packaged meal, which looked like heaven to me (of course my damn stomach would choose to growl at this time). He noticed and gave a soft chuckle.


“Looks like someone needs it,” he remarked as he stepped into the room and offered them to me. As I dug into the meal like a man deprived, I watched him study Haku’s sleeping form.


“Cha Seung’s outside,” he finally said quietly. “We got to talking and he told me something pretty interesting.”


“What’s that?” I asked, shamelessly licking my fingers as the juices from the warm sandwich ran down slowly.


“Five dead bodies at the scene. Two big guys, broken arms and necks and one with the hand sliced off. Another guy...looked like a business man...shot to the neck...woman...probably a hooker...another broken neck...and Sai...beaten and then shot several times.”


I froze. “Haku...did all that?” I simply couldn’t picture Haku shooting anyone. He had never been comfortable using that weapon and would have rather dealt with a thousand throwing knives or even a katana than resort to using a gun. So how...?


“Cha Sueng doesn’t believe Haku did it, so I’m guessing there was someone else there at the time, another witness who finished the job.”


“...someone who wanted Sai dead? Maybe another member of their organization?”


“Maybe...although you have to wonder why they wouldn’t want to get rid of the bodies or finish off Haku. They wouldn’t be that sloppy, would they?”


“Good point.” I finished off the sandwich with an effort and eyed the I.D. card again. Shikamaru must have noticed it as well because he nodded toward it.


That belong to Sai?”


“Yes.” I looked at him, my intent suddenly clear. “I want to go to this see if there’s something I can find.”


“What are you looking for?”


“He’s been sending information to Orochimaru and Kimimaro, right? He might have documents that might be incriminating if found by the police. At least Haku had the presence of mind to get all identification from Sai’s body before leaving the scene.”


“Risky move. There might be others.”


“I know that...which is why I want you with me.”


Shikamaru raised a brow, his hands buried deep within the pocket of his pants. We had a stare down for almost a minute, as if he was studying me to make sure I wasn’t shitting him about this. When he seemed satisfied that I was dead serious, he gave a curt nod.


“All right. I’m game. When do we leave?”


“Now is as good a time as any. Is Cha Sueng still out there?”


“Nah, he just left to pick up Jiraiya. He’s bringing him here.”


My stomach dropped at the sound of that name. I thought the man wasn’t going to be here until tomorrow! His presence now could only mean -




“He’s here, huh?” I stated quietly. “So I guess...”


I couldn’t finish as the reality of the situation began to hit home...hard. Jiraiya was only here for one reason. To take Naruto away.


“He’s probably seen Naruto,” Shikamaru finished for me, unaware of how funny my stomach felt or how painful it was now to breathe steadily. I masked my discomfort by focusing on my sugary beverage, trying not to think too much of the notion that my earlier farewell to Naruto might end up being the last time I see him.


“...just hope he remembers I’m supposed to be going with him,” came the low mumble that had me looking at him warily.




Shikamaru shrugged lightly. “I offered to go back home with Naruto. I’ve got a bone to pick with Danzo as well. I guess I didn’t tell you the whole reason behind my arrest in the first place, did I?”


“No...I don’t think you did.” I tried to run through the memory banks to shift out Shikamaru’s case file, but I was running a painful blank. However, I needn’t have bothered because he settled into another chair and began to tell me the story about his association with the councilman who had become the bane of Ikegami and Danzo’s existence. When he was through, I had to reluctantly admit that my respect for this man had gone up a notch. Just like Naruto and I, he too had gone through his brand of Hell on earth, and if this was the opportunity he needed to exact his revenge on those who destroyed all he held near and dear to him, then more power to him.


“Besides...I made a promise to Asuma,” Shikamaru added with a wistful smile that had me biting my lower lip at the mention of my late mentor and friend. “I’d look after that blockhead even if it cost me my life.” He rolled his eyes and pretended to look offended at this task, but I could tell it meant a lot to him –


(and to me least I know someone I can trust is going to be by his side)


“Will you pose as an assassin too?” I queried before tossing the now empty bottle into the trash can. It nearly missed its target.


“I don’t know yet,” Shikamaru admitted with a purse of his lips. “I guess whatever role Jiraiya suggests I do is what I’ll become. Just as long as I’m not too away from the action.”


“I guess...”


“We’re back!” came the somewhat cheerful greeting as the door opened to reveal Temari and Karin with items in several plastic bags.


“Is he awake yet?” Karin asked as she moved closer to the bed.


“If he wasn’t, your scream would have done the job,” I replied tightly, for which I got cuffed on the head for.


“I got some toiletries and a change of clothes for you,” she retorted as she threw the bag on my lap. “Dr. Woo’s got a bathroom adjacent to his office you can use. You should shave and take a shower or something. You look like hell.”


It was thoughtful of her, and I really did appreciate her thinking of me in this way, but what could my damn mouth say instead of the words “thank you”?


“You look no better yourself,” came the snappish words that had me mentally kicking myself. I really can be such a bastard, can’t I? To spare the look of pain or disappointment she would have given me, I rose to my feet quickly, set both Sai and Haku’s bags back into the closet before excusing myself. I found the bathroom easily enough, although it was so small, it could only fit a shower and a sink, and thirty minutes later, I felt like a new man. There were still dark rings around my eyes, but that was a small price of pay for my harrowing night.


All the same, it still didn’t prepare me for the sight of the big man with the big voice, who must have arrived while I was cleaning up. Jiraiya was sitting in the lobby with Shikamaru across him, both engaged in such deep conversation, neither man noticed my presence. I took a step back and remained ‘hidden’  at the corner to eavesdrop.


“...will tell her about it,” Shikamaru was saying with a light nod. “Kinda sudden, but it’s to be expected.”


“I hear you two were supposed to be married?”


“It can wait,” came the quiet reply. “Besides, we don’t really have to make it legal for anyone to know we’re always going to be together, do we?”


Jiraiya gave a small smile. “That is true. All the same, I must thank you for being willing to be by Naruto’s side. He will need a reminder of his humanity when all seems bleak and lost, and with you as a companion, I am leaving him in safe  hands.”


“Don’t make me out to be some saint,” Shikamaru replied with a cynical air, though the light flush on his cheeks told of how much Jiraiya’s praise had meant to him. “I have no doubt it’s going to be difficult, but I’ll remain in the shadows as need be. You’re right about Danzo possibility pitting him against me if he realized we worked together. It’s best he doesn’t know I exist.”


“Hm.” Jiraiya seemed to ‘puff’ himself out with a gush of air before clearing his throat. “And if you’re done eavesdropping, young sir, perhaps you’d like to join us. I believe you and Mr. Naru here have an excursion you wish to make shortly?”


Blushing darkly at being caught, I stepped out to meet them, ignoring the smirk Shikamaru threw my way while bowing in greeting to Jiraiya. “He told you about Sai?”


“Cha Sueng filled me in for the most part,” Jiraiya admitted as I sat next to Shikamaru. “But Shikamaru here tells me that you both plan to visit this address on Sai’s I.D. Do you think that’s wise?”


“No,” I admitted bluntly. “But in order to make sure we cover all our tracks, it’s a risk we’re going to have to take. I have no intention of leaving Buk-gu without making sure that we confiscate or destroy anything he has on us. There were keys in the bag as well. Those keys should lead to something, shouldn’t it?”


“It should indeed,” Jiraiya agreed with a nod and purse of his lips. “Well, who am I to stop you? From my investigations, it doesn’t seem like there are others besides the two Sai must have killed last night. From Cha Sueng’s descriptions, they were probably Ginkaku and Kinkaku, two of the strongest assassins I’ve met. Sai must have really good to be able to take those two out so quickly.”


“Can we stop praising the damn bastard?” I grated tightly. “Thanks to him, Haku’s in this condition, and he’s lucky he isn’t alive or I would have repaid him twice as much.” I rose to my feet. “Is Cha Sueng still around?”


“Yes, he is, but you haven’t given me an opportunity to tell you our plans for your departure,” Jiraiya insisted quietly but firmly. “I know you’re impatient to get information, but this is important as well.”


Reluctantly, I sat down again and stared at him. “When are you leaving with Naruto and Shikamaru?”


“Tomorrow morning as early as we can manage it.”


My hands trembled and I had to form tight fists on my lap to control them. I sincerely hoped they hadn’t noticed that little moment of weakness.


(less than twenty-four hours, huh?)


“You, on the other hand, will be picked up by Hoshigaki Kisame – a premiere swordsman and invaluable member of Akatsuki. There’ll be no mistaking him when he arrives. He’s a man of few words, but quite efficient when it comes to carrying out his missions. You’ll be leaving on Tuesday morning with him, leaving the girls with Haku. They will be picked up by Wednesday, and with any hope Haku would be alert enough to be moved without causing any more injuries. You will be rendezvousing with your brother in Tokyo -”


“And where will you be with Naruto?”


Jiraiya studied me carefully for what seemed like an eternity before a tiny smile tugged at the corner of his lips. I had no idea why that little motion should get me all flustered, but I had the nasty feeling this old man was onto the reason why I was so desperate to know this information. If Naruto and I were going to be separated, I at least wanted to have a general idea of where he’d be in case of...


(in case of what? What the hell could I do for him anyway?)


“Kyoto...with me and Shikamaru of course,” Jiraiya replied. “Not to worry, I promise to keep you updated on his activities if you’re so concerned about him -”


“I am not,” I lied immediately and knew he wasn’t buying it any more than I was. To make matters worse, I could feel Shikamaru’s curious gaze trained on me. Damn it!


“Whatever the case, you will all be in good hands. I have no idea what Itachi has in store for you, but I can assure you that you might be thrust into a very difficult situation faster than you bargained for.” He lowered his voice, his expression dark. “Word is Orochimaru has begun an ethnic cleansing of sorts. His insanity has him begin destroying entire villages on a whim or at the very notion of a member of your clan being in existence.”


My jaw worked as a dull coil of rage filled the pit of my stomach. The fists I had formed became tighter still, the sudden memory of the rampage on my family home all those years ago rushing back in a flood. I could literally smell the choking smoke and hot metallic stench of blood being spilled all over those grounds. The blood and tears of my parents, my people, innocent lives destroyed all because of one  - no, two men greedy and evil enough to gain control.


(no more no more no more no more no more no more no...!)


“Your brother and Shisui are both working hard to protect as many as they can, but it is not easy. Your presence there is going to be a blessing to them,” Jiraiya continued quietly. “Let’s just hope that by the time you arrive, it’s not too late. Now then!” He slapped his thighs and gave us a smile. “I believe Cha Sueng should be ready to take you to where you believe Sai resides. I’ll stay here and hold the fort, so to speak, until you return.”


I opened my mouth to stay something, but the words wouldn’t come out. I was swirling with a gamut of emotions that suddenly left me feeling mentally exhausted, but I managed to stand up to give him a firm handshake before leaving with Shikamaru.


Cha Sueng was familiar with the address on the I.D. card (which shouldn’t have been a surprise), and in no time, we were in the middle of Buk-gu’s traffic on our way to a section of the city we had never seen before. Shikamaru, gratefully, held his peace and didn’t bother me during the trip, and it wasn’t until Cha Sueng finally pulled to a stop before a non-descript apartment complex, did he finally speak.


“Hm. Nothing too exciting.”


“It’s the perfect cover up,” I replied as I stepped out of the van with a cautious eye around me. The street looked no different from ours, with the usual sight of an old man or woman sitting outside or dozing off, children playing soccer or stick baseball, clothes lines filled with garments that flapped lazily in the wind, the smell of home-made dinners and sewage and the occasional teenage couple flirting stupidly at a corner. A person like Sai could easily blend in without a second look by anyone else.


“Looks like we’re good,” Shikamaru whispered to me as we made our way into the building. “Don’t notice anyone watching us.”


I nodded and made my way to the front desk. Though it was not as cluttered and unkempt as Jae Weong’s (there were at least fresh flowers here), it still showed signs of the number of years this establishment had been around. The poster board was tacked with more announcements than I could make out, and the landlord – a plump, red-faced man, came jiggling out of his office to greet us.


“Can I help you?” he asked in Hangul, watching us warily as if we were strangers from another planet.


“We are looking for Mr. Sai,” I replied in kind; keeping my voice even. We could have made the decision to slip past the desk, but we realized there was no room number on the card, and the keys didn’t exactly reveal which room it belonged to either. Instead of spending the rest of the afternoon searching every damn apartment in the building, this was the best way to go. We’d just have to take the risk of the landlord’s suspicions.


“Sai?” the man look confused. “Who is this Sai?”


Shit. Had the bastard used a false name then? Was possible, and though I didn’t want to do this, I had no other option but to withdraw the I.D. from my jacket to show it to the older man.


“This man. Do you recognize him?”


His brows shot up and he nodded. “Yes, him. Quiet man. Strange. Only comes and goes without saying hello to anyone.” He eyed Shikamaru and me again. “And you say you two are his friends?”


“Co-workers,” Shikamaru elaborated with a disarming smile that countered my growing impatience. I was afraid my ‘watchdog’ side was revealing itself, that side of me that had no time to fuck around with such dumb questions and to get straight to the point. Still I had to admire that Shikamaru was able to pick up the lingo so quickly. He must have really been studying it all this time we’ve been here. Couldn’t say the same for Naruto.


“Ah ha...I see,” the man said and then shrugged as if no longer interested in whether Sai had friends or not. “Room 436 is where he stays.” He jiggled back out the way he came while muttering something beneath his breath, but Shikamaru and I didn’t stick around to find out what it was. The elevator ride was less cumbersome than our building, maybe because it didn’t have that stomach-churning smell or too much graffiti within.


Soon enough, we were on the fourth floor and standing before the plain gray-painted door where Shikamaru tried the keys to see which one fit. While this happened, I kept watch in case of a possible ambush, every fiber of my being strung taut as I observed every crack, stain, and noise that emanated from the hallway. The other doors (about six rooms in all) were closed, but from the muffled sounds that spilled out here, it at least showed signs of life within them. I stiffened at the dull ping of the elevator doors opening, but relaxed a little when it turned out to be nothing more than an old lady pushing a walker with the help of her young son. I nodded to them in greeting, just as Shikamaru gave a sigh of relief as the door finally  creaked open.


We slipped into the darkened room quietly but quickly, and as I closed the door behind me, Shikamaru flipped on the light switch.


“Christ...are you sure he lived here?”


“It’s what the address said,” I muttered as I stepped out of my shoes and further into a room that was devoid of any furnishing whatsoever. In fact, if it wasn’t for the pair of slippers by the door, or the faint smell of food from the tiny kitchen on our left, you wouldn’t believe anyone had been in here in ages. The main living room space had no furniture or décor, and with Shikamaru parting the curtains to the patio – to let in some much-needed sunlight – even that tiny outside space had nothing to show that a human lived here.


I stuck my head into the bathroom – a small space that held nothing but a plastic cup with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste on the sink, a cabinet with the usual toiletries, a small white towel  hanging on a brass rod, and not much else.


“Jackpot,” Shikamaru stated, forcing me to face him. He had pulled open a closet space that was so well disguised as a wall, you might have walked past it without noticing. Some of Sai’s clothes hung from coat hangers, there was his rolled-up futon and pillows, and beneath that, two black duffle bags Shikamaru was now dragging out.


Working quickly (he took one, while I handled the other), we began to search through it. In my bag, there was a layer of clothes, which I swept aside impatiently, for beneath I could feel something else.


Good grief. Had he been planning a fucking war?


There were two standard-issue .45 Colts with several magazines and cartridges, a set of throwing knives in a rolled up beige pouch, and what looked like a wakizashi, but not quite. It was a jutte, one of the weapons only a select few could actually wield effectively. I recognized it as one of the bloodied knives I had seen in Sai’s bag; a sign he had probably used that on Haku. Unknowingly, my fingers tightened around the hilt of the weapon, my mind taking flight at the fantasy of stabbing Sai’s already dead body over and over again. Perhaps in Hell, he’d feel the pain.


“Well, well, well, looks like we’ve hit the jackpot, Sasuke,” came the low comment from Shikamaru that jerked me from my homicidal thoughts. I looked up to notice he had withdrawn several dossiers and envelopes, some of which he was skimming through. “The guy has got enough information and pictures to last a lifetime. He’s probably been here since we arrived.”


“Let me see that.” I reached for one of the dossiers and almost cried out in disbelief at the (recent) picture of Haku on its cover. Within, Sai had done a thorough job describing his actions and daily activities to a tee. In fact, even the fucking blind would have been able to pick out Haku after reading through this. Several photographs had been taken especially in moments when we felt we were ‘safe’. I felt disgusted looking at images of myself training or going down the street assuming I was all alone while all that time, the bastard had been watching me.


Talk about being careless. It really was unbecoming of my stature.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sai even had information about Sergei, Jiraiya, Jae Weong, Cha Sueng, Dr. Woo and his wife, and even Yoona! In fact, it seemed like every single person we encountered throughout our stay had a little information stashed away in Sai’s bag. It really was impressive, if I wasn’t feeling spooked out at his thoroughness. Just looking at all this, I had the insane urge to dash back to the clinic, tell everyone to get right into the van and straight to the port. We had no idea how much Sai must have told Kimimaro or Orochimaru, but the fact that Gin and Kin had arrived was more than obvious they were already making their move.


“Look we have to get  -”




I froze as Shikamaru placed a hand upon my wrist with a finger to his lips. His features were strained and dark as he nodded toward the front door. Barely turning, I listened and heard it as well, the light turning of the door knob as someone tried to make his or her way into the apartment. Without saying a word, I motioned for Shikamaru to hide the duffle bags again, but not before picking up the jutte and rising noiselessly to my sock-clad feet. Nearly on tiptoes, I made my way to the door and waited behind it with the jutte raised just high enough to inflict some kind of damage without killing the person. I was glad to see that Shikamaru had taken the initiative to hide in the closet, hence giving the illusion that we had not been in here at all.


I held my breath as the knob twisted this way and that for a second (I didn’t recall locking the door or maybe I did after all), but with a forceful push, our newcomer finally got it open and stepped in. As soon as I noticed the shadow of the pistol, I moved swiftly. The jutte came down to slice through his forearm, causing the pistol to drop to the floor, but before he could scream in pain, I stepped behind him to wrap an arm around his neck while slapping a hand over his mouth with the other. I kicked the door shut behind me and dragged him inside, cursing as I noticed the drops of blood trailing after us.


Small matter now. This was more important.


The man – who was a little shorter than me and much stockier – tried to struggle, but I squeezed his neck a little harder, not letting go until the slow collapse of his arms revealed he was close to passing out. I let up the pressure as Shikamaru opened the closet door to reveal himself.


“Someone you know?” I asked wryly.


Shikamaru shook his head and stooped to his hunches before the stranger. “Hey...wake up.” He slapped the man’s cheeks gently, and then a little harder when it seemed like it hadn’t done the trick. Startled gray eyes darted around feverishly for a moment before settling on Shikamaru as if he had seen something from his nightmares. Shikamaru smiled.


“Welcome. We weren’t expecting company.”


“Who sent you here?” I asked, still holding my position behind him. if he dared make a move, I was going to squeeze his damn neck until it broke.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he sputtered in Hangul, which was funny since he was clearly Japanese. Of course noticing the familiar ring on his finger told me the story. He too was a member of the secret police. God help me. Just how many were out there?!


“I think you do,” I replied in kind, smirking as he seemed gutted at the realization we were on to him. “You work for Orochimaru, yes? Did he send you to keep an eye on us too?”


He kept his mouth shut, and I squeezed sending him coughing and trying to struggle (albeit weakly) again.


“How many of you are there?!” I snapped impatiently.


But like a goddamn mule, he wouldn’t say anything. I realized I was fighting a losing battle here. Men like these were trained never to reveal their secrets. No matter how much you tortured them, it was an inbred agreement; spilling secrets was tantamount to committing seppuku.


“What’s that ring on his finger?” Shikamaru asked.


“Something Sai and everyone else who is a member of the damn secret police wear. In fact, we aren’t going to get anything from him either. They are too highly trained to reveal anything to us.”


“So...what do we do?”


I stared down into the pale features beneath me. In its place, I could see Haku’s bleeding body and his comatose repose, and feeling the dull rage swell within me again, I applied a little more pressure until I felt and heard the undeniable crack of his neck bones finally giving way. The loll of his tongue from the corner of his mouth, and his eyes becoming glassy signified I had done a good job. Let the cops find his body in here and try to put two and two together.


“Stuff all the dossiers and weapons into one bag,” I commanded as I began to drag the body into the closet, but not before helping myself to another souvenir. The ring would be added to our growing collection. “We’ve got to get out of here now.”


With a firm nod, Shikamaru did as he was told while I did my best to ‘hide’ the evidence within the futon. The bloodstains on the wooden floor (no tatami mats here thank goodness), were easily wiped off with a washcloth and some water from the kitchen. By the time we were through, the apartment looked just as it had before. The man’s weapon was tossed into the duffle bag as well, and with a final check of the scene, we slipped out and locked the door behind us.


We did not encounter the landlord, thankfully, and I almost had a heart attack when I noticed the van was not waiting for us outside as it was supposed to. However, Cha Seung must have figured out it was best to stay out of sight until we showed up again, because he pulled up mere minutes later with a sheepish smile and an apology. Like us, he too had to be vigilant because we never knew who was watching.


“Take me back to the apartment,” I ordered. “I want this kept there and besides, I want to check up Naruto. There might be someone else there and we wouldn’t know.”


“I’ll come with you -”


“No,” I insisted firmly. “You go back to the clinic and tell Jiraiya what happened. I’ll hold the fort until you all return, all right?”


Shikamaru didn’t look too convinced, but he gave a reluctant nod and agreed to my decision.


I felt I was unable to breathe properly until the duffle bag was safe within the closet of our apartment. I slammed it shut and sank to my knees, realizing I had been so fucking tense from the walk out of the van to this point. It felt like every step was being monitored and that growing feeling of paranoia was getting worse by the second. I literally had to rub my hands several times down my thighs to control an uncharacteristic bout of the shakes, and as I stared at my trembling fingers, a rising bubble of hysteria threatened to have me cackling with bitter laughter at how I was behaving.




Even this far away, Orochimaru’s power over me was still palpable.  


I was disgusted with myself, and yet I couldn’t help it. In a place we had thought would be our solace and refuge, that bastard had found a way to creep into my life again. Haku was the first victim so far, and if he hadn’t been vigilant, we might all be in the same situation right now. Jae Weong, though he had been at his usual station at the door and had insisted that he had noticed no one suspicious all evening, I was still not satisfied. I crawled to the glass doors leading to the patio and pushed aside the curtain carefully. It was only sometime past two in the afternoon, and though it wouldn’t make sense for any of them to be so blatantly obvious with their spying, it still hadn’t stopped them from sending someone to stop Shikamaru and I, had it?


Oh God...Naruto!


I staggered to my feet as it suddenly hit me. What if they had gotten him already? What if, all this time, I’ve been busy worrying about me, one of them hadn’t already found a way to get into Naruto’s apartment? I reached for my wakizashi and dashed out to the hallway, paused to see and listen for anything out of place, before making my way to Naruto’s door. I held my breath and placed my ear against it, but I could hear nothing but the familiar whirring sound of the cooling unit. I studied the ground carefully, searching for an obscure footprint...a piece of clothing...anything that would reveal that there was something out of place. The doorknob looked like it hadn’t been touched, and sincerely praying that he had at least locked the door before calling it a night, I placed a  hand upon it and twisted.


...only to curse inwardly as it turned easily on the first try. Goddamnit! Didn’t this guy have any concept of danger?! Wasn’t he aware of just how precarious our position was?!


(well of course not! He didn’t just finish killing a man and hiding his body in a closet, did he? Look at him. He’s dead to the world)


And that was putting it mildly.


In the relative gloom of the room, thanks to the curtains being drawn, Naruto was sprawled out on his futon in only his boxers, mouth slightly ajar, with drool accumulating at the corner of his mouth and onto the pillow; one of which was cradled beneath his head, and the other somewhat tucked between his legs. He was snoring lightly, and then gave a particularly loud one before turning onto his other side.


A wave of relief so strong, it literally had my knees trembling, forced me to stumble onto a chair to catch my breath. I closed my eyes and leaned back in silent gratitude that he was okay. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it if anything had happened to him while I was away.


“Hah...acting like a goddamn overprotective Mother Hen,” I whispered with a light chuckle of embarrassment. “I should get my ass out of here before he wakes up wondering what I’m doing.”


I lifted my lashes and picked up the wakizashi I hadn’t been aware of dropping in the first place. I rose to my feet – after I was sure I wasn’t going to collapse – and I honestly, did plan to leave and go back to my place to wait for the others, but damn if the urge to watch Naruto again didn’t have me gravitating in his direction like an addict.


(less than twenty-four to see you until goodness knows when)


I captured my lower lip between my teeth as I stood over him. To say that this man had managed to change the world I once knew in just over six months would be the understatement of the century. If you had told me that this same man - who had mistaken me for a female ‘centuries’ ago on that godforsaken bus ride - would be the very same person my heart would be yearning for today, I’d have laughed in your face before killing you for even thinking it in the first place. Intense feelings of hate and apathy to him as a human being had somehow given way to a desire to protect and own him completely. I wanted the sinner to become a lover...not just any lover to anyone, but to me and only me. It would have been a sickening prospect to the Uchiha Sasuke I once was, but oh, how the tide has turned.


“Haven’t they, Naruto?” I whispered to my unresponsive companion. “If I hadn’t met you...where would I be now?”


Where else? Probably stuck doing paperwork or thinking of the new recruits I’d have to train or fighting off Orochimaru’s advances again. What a life, huh?


Not thinking much of what I was doing....or what I planned to do, but knowing that I had to do it all the same, I found myself locking his door and laying my wakizashi on the desk again. I could literally hear my heart beating hard and fast in my ears as I began to unbutton my shirt with fingers that trembled. I knew what I was about to do was inexcusable especially if he woke up to see it, but we had no time to draw out some mushy, melodramatic farewell. This would be the only opportunity we’d get to be alone in every sense of the word, and I wasn’t going to miss it.


I stopped when it came to my underwear, an embarrassing wave of shyness coming over me as I began to second guess my decision.


Do not get cold feet now, goddamnit! It’s not as if it’s the first time you two have been nude before. Why the shy act now?!


I took a deep breath and tiptoed to the futon, studied the sleeping figure for another long minute before lying, on my back, beside him with my heart in my throat. I could feel his warm breath tickle the hairs on my check and neck, and with a tight swallow, I finally forced myself to look at him.


And look I did; the clarity of it all was simply incredible.


I wanted to memorize every line, swell, scar, and bruise on that face. To trace and etch them into my brain until they literally burned with the very thought of him. I had never noticed how long his lashes were before, neither had I really noticed how deeply ingrained those birth scars were. From a distance they looked like he had just drawn a pencil on his cheeks, but this close...I could see how much they were a part of him. It would take major reconstructive surgery of some sort to eliminate them, but I doubted he’d want to do something that drastic. I loved the scars the way they were. It made him that much more unique and...well...Naruto.


(his warmth)


And I didn’t just mean body heat either. I was able to see and feel his aura, and even in sleep, it was that wonderful and familiar soothing sensation of ‘goodness’ and inner strength that had drawn him to me from the moment we met.


(I never want to be cold again)


With a fingertip I slowly traced the outline of his parted lips, smiling softly as his breath tickled my flesh. His lashes fluttered as I dared to tease my finger into his mouth, but I withdrew before he could completely awaken. Last thing I wanted to was ruin this shameless moment of observation. Fighting back a groan, I allowed my gaze and hand to travel down his shoulder...




...the scars of our battle in the past faded and now replaced with the most recent beatings from Sergei (who I vowed to return the favor should we cross paths again). I slid lower to press my lips against his wounds...on his shoulder blade...right there close to his forearm...another one above his left breast, which I licked and sighed in pleasurable content as his nipples hardened before my hooded gaze. Unable to resist, I captured the pink nub between my fingers, rubbing them gently before pinching them to elicit a breathless gasp of response. His brows were now creased, though it relaxed again as I licked his salty skin, and just when he thought it was all over, I pinched a little harder.




It was a guttural, animalistic sound that seemed wrenched from his throat as he began to stir a little more. I held my breath and waited for him to open his eyes, for those blue depths to widen in shock before darkening with anger or disbelief or (if I was lucky) passion. But stubbornly, he kept his eyes shut, though I knew that he was probably no longer in the deep throes of sleep. The bastard was probably waiting to see if this was all a dream.


“Might as well make it a reality, hmm?”


With a light smirk, I did as I pleased for I took his ‘silence’ as permission to continue. I helped to push him onto his back (no protest from him), and continued to worship his battle-tested flesh with a hunger that would never be satisfied. Lower still my teeth and tongue explored; they felt the hard clench of his torso muscles as I licked them, they were tickled by the barely visible golden hairs on his abdomen, and as I swirled my tongue within the tiny hole of his belly button, the soft gasp this elicited definitely told me he was no longer going to bother pretending he was asleep.


Looking up confirmed my theories. Hooded blue-eyes were watching me and instead of the anger and disbelief I had expected, they seemed more intrigued and curious to see just how far I was willing to go. I knew I was at a point of no return for I had never done this to anyone in my life. No one, besides Ino, had even performed such an act and I knew I’d have to recall how it had felt with her to make sure I pleased him without making a fool of myself.


He was literally close to bursting out of his boxers; the rigid outline of his erection nudging the cloth aside and rearing its crude intentions to me. I could feel my face flooding with heat, my head pounding as I tugged gently on the hem of the cloth to release the imprisoned organ.


Good grief! Did I really want to do this?


I couldn’t bear to look at him, to reveal my worries and doubts at this point in time, so I settled on studying a piece of flesh I had – so far- only stroked to its completion a few times. I licked my lips as I watched the uncontrollable dew-like drops of his pre-cum coat the swollen head throbbing with life. I swallowed and taking a deep breath, closed my eyes and slowly licked the erect flesh from base to tip in one fluid motion. His tremble and another intake of breath told me I was on the right track. I repeated it again, daring to be a little bolder with my strokes. I savored the taste of his semen on my tongue, kissing the bulbous tip in reverence before trapping it within my mouth to suckle gently.


“Oh fuck yeah,” came the low growl of approval that caused my heart to leap with an excitement that was almost embarrassing. I sucked a little harder, and with every low moan he gave, I became even more emboldened and daring. Of course being aware of my now raging erection – which I had to curb by rubbing myself against the futon gently – made this experience more intoxicating. My right hand reached up to caress his perfectly-sized testicles, fondling and tugging them gently with every suck of his penis. He bucked up at the attention I was paying to them, nearly whining as he finally lifted an arm to cover his eyes as if embarrassed.


“Deeper,” he seemed to be saying, which had me a little confused. What did he mean by...mmmphff!


What the hell?!


I nearly gagged as I felt the tip of his penis hit the back of my throat. Naruto – ever impatient – had reached down to push my head lower, forcing me to take more of him than I was ready for. I tried to withdraw, feeling my eyes water  as I struggled to breathe, but like the sadist he was, he wouldn’t release me until I felt the world swimming before my eyes. Then and only then did he finally let up.


“You...ass...hole!” I gasped as I pulled away, but not before squeezing the base of his penis hard enough to show I didn’t find his stunt funny.


“Sorry,” he wheezed as I squeezed harder still. “I just wanted to show you how it’s really done -”


“I don’t need you teaching me anything!” How embarrassing!


“Okay, then let me go down on you -”




“Why not? Ouch...let up already, will ya? I said I was sorry!”


I released him with a scowl, feeling that the moment was somehow over. I could still taste him on my tongue and damn if I didn’t want to do it all over again. However, with that shit he just...what the...?!


“Naruto!” I cried out as he suddenly flipped our positions to have me pinned to the futon. “What the hell do you think you’re...mmmmphff!


His lips had me forgetting any anger I might have felt for him minutes earlier. His forceful request to ravish my mouth, as if wanting to taste himself as well, had me blossoming for him willingly. Our hips met in a dance that had us both breaking apart and groaning with the realization that we were this close to coming before we wanted to. He captured my lower lip between his teeth gently and pleaded without saying a word.


He wanted to taste me as well. How the hell could I say no to that look?


I lowered my lashes and looked away; a signal that he could do whatever the hell he wanted as I wouldn’t have the power to stop him anyway.


His smile had me flushing a million shades of red, but that was soon lost in a sea of pleasure as his teeth and tongue began to wrack the same havoc I had inflicted on him earlier. I had never been aware of how sensitive my nipples were until he played with them as he pleased; sucking, biting and caressing them in a way that had me thrusting up impatiently for completion.


When he finally got down to my underwear, I was literally dying.


“God, you look good enough to eat,” came the unnecessary, but blush-inducing commentary I would have retorted to, if it wasn’t for the immediate sensation of his warm mouth enveloping me completely.


(oh God!)


Now, I understand exactly what he meant by ‘showing me how it’s done’ for I had never felt anything so goddamn pleasurable and intense in my life. Ino’s had been more...gentle I guess, but Naruto...he seemed to know exactly what had to be done to drive me to the point of no return. I found myself clutching the futon desperately, struggling to prolong this moment as I reveled in being ‘eaten’ with such abandon. Every stroke, suckle, kiss and caress from his lips, tongue and hands drove me wild with lust. I felt feverish, wanting him  to never stop despite the heady tingle that was beginning to creep up from the tip of my toes all the way to my head and right down to the center of the action.




I was going to explode in a way I never had before, and realizing that Naruto might end up having to swallow my semen in this manner -




Was that me crying out that loud? Not that I’d have enough time to think about it as the familiar surge of warmth flooded through my rigid flesh and into the waiting mouth ready to receive every single drop of what I had to offer.  I squeezed my eyes shut as my orgasm wracked through me, leaving me a trembling, shuddering mess when it was over. I collapsed back onto the futon to try to catch my breath, finally forcing my lashes open to stare at the incredible being before me. To watch him lick his lips and fingers as if savoring something delicious had me flushing with mingled emotions of delight and embarrassment.


“See?” he crowed as he leaned over me with a smug smile of satisfaction. “Told you that’s how it’s done. You liked it, didn’t you?”


I grumbled and tried to look away, but he captured my cheeks between his hands, forcing me to look at him.


“You liked it...right?” I could sense the doubt in his question, perhaps wanting to know (for the both of us) if what we had just done was really okay. I stared into those twin pools of darkened blue for a long minute before simply responding by reaching up to capture his swollen lips in a kiss that told him everything I could never say. I tasted myself within the warm cavern of his mouth, allowing my tongue to relish the familiar stickiness of my most private of bodily fluids. There was something rather intense about this brand of communion, and yet I knew (or maybe we both knew), there was something more than this...something we both were too ‘afraid’ to explore first.


“Sasuke...” came the quiet whisper of my name when we finally pulled apart to get some air. “Do...I mean...I want to...”


“...take me?” I blushed darkly and forced myself to finish the sentence. “”


“Ye...yeah...” came the shy stutter. “We don’t have to, and I wouldn’t mind you...trying it with me, but...I’m still a bit...I can’t let anyone touch me there because of...” He lowered his gaze and seemed to struggle within himself for a minute. “Let’s just say something that happened to me in the dungeons...”


I immediately sat up with my heart in my throat. An inexplicable rage filled me at the very notion of anyone daring to take advantage of him in that way! “You were raped?” I asked quietly.


He flushed and couldn’t bear to look at me. “I don’t know for sure,” he finally confessed. “All I know is that he stuck something up me and it hurt like a bitch.” He gave a weak laugh. “Not exactly the sort of thing we should be talking about now but -”


I couldn’t let him finish. The anguish and hurt in his voice had my heart breaking in pieces. I threw myself upon him, my arms clutching his sweat-flushed shoulders and holding him so tight I felt I would never let him go...not for the rest of my life if need be. I had no idea he had gone through something that terrible, had no idea of how much this whole thing between us would have been repulsive to him from the get-go and yet he had dared to give this relationship a try. If I was in his position, I doubted I would have allowed any other human to even consider touching me for a handshake let alone bedding him.


“I’m so sorry,” I whispered brokenly against the crook of his neck. “So damn sorry, Naruto.”


“What are you apologizing for?” he croaked weakly, and though he embraced me as well, I could feel him trembling. “You weren’t responsible.”


“But I was...I sent you down there, goddamn it.”


“Yeah, but you had no idea that bastard would do such a thing, did you? So don’t beat yourself over it.” He placed a tender kiss on my temple...down to my cheek...and finally pulled away, but just far enough so he could look at me. “It’s all over now,” he continued softly as he caressed my cheek with a finger. “That was in the past, and we’ve got now...well know...”


“I know...”




We sat in our somewhat embrace – two naked young men pregnant with unspoken things we longed to do and explore with each other, but more than aware of just what our reality consisted of. He reached for my hands to hold them  upon his lap, and I was unable to tear my gaze away from the sight of his penis still so damn erect and close to spilling its contents at any second. I wondered if he’d let me finish him off...repay the favor if you will, but I knew it would have to take a whole lot more than just sucking it to completion. In this situation, I knew I’d have to take the initiative.


“Do you have some kind of...lubricant?” I finally asked quietly.


At the widening of his eyes and the dark flush that filled his cheeks - making him look like a kid seeing a naked female for the first time - I smiled and repeated my query. “ you?”


“I...uh...I think so...”


“Where is it?”








“Okay. Wait for me a minute.” I leaned close to place a soft kiss on the tip of his nose before rising to my feet before I could change my mind. With my heart thudding loudly, I searched and found what I was looking for. It was an oily body lotion of some sort, but it would have to do. We hadn’t exactly prepared for this, had we?


Back in the living room, Naruto was nervously biting his fingers and only stopped and sat up quickly (still looking gob smacked at my intentions) when I sat before him again with the small bottle in hand.


“I guess you’ll have to lubricate yourself...and me...before...”


He began to shake his head. “We don’t have to do this, Sasuke. It’s okay, really. I’s been fine so far with what we’ve been doing and...”


(can’t you ever stop talking?!)


I silenced his protests with another kiss, nearly sending us crashing to the floor with the force of it. When I finally pulled away, it was to whisper harshly against his lips. “I want it this way, Naruto. If I never get to see you again...” I forced down the hard lump that came to my throat. “If I never get to see you again, then I want this memory burned within me for the rest of my life. Do you understand?”


His eyes searched mine for so long I felt sure he was going to back away and call this whole thing off. However, when they seemed to soften with a kindness and warmth that made me want to cry, when his trembling fingers reached out to cradle my cheek, when his lips fell over mine again in a kiss that was tender yet passionate, that oh-so-hard ache in my chest revealed exactly what I had so shamefully hidden all this time.


(my feelings for you...)


My feelings for Naruto was so much more than just the physical lust. My feelings for Naruto was so much bigger, intense, and deeper than mere words could describe. It was a swirling abyss of endless emotions; a tempest that raged every time we were together. I wasn’t sure if this was what ‘love’ was supposed to feel like, but whatever it was painful yet so very beautiful in its full revelation.


I hardly felt him move gently into position until two of his coated fingers found an entrance that was off limits to everyone else except probably my mother (if she was still alive). I sucked in a harsh breath and closed my eyes, forcing myself to breathe evenly as he shyly explored and stretched as best he could. Every now and then, he’d ask  if I was okay, was I hurt, he wasn’t going to fast was he? I wanted to smack him and make him shut up, but I knew he was only being cautious and caring in his own way.




He probed...and probed...and probed deeper still until I felt it...a gradual swell of toe-curling pleasure that had me clutching his shoulders and trying not to cum all over his stomach. My penis was a hard rock between our heaving torsos. Just what the hell was he doing to me?


“Now,” I breathed as my teeth scraped the flesh of his shoulder in readiness to bite. “Please...don’t want to come too soon...Naruto...can’t fucking take it anymore...”


“Okay...hold on...” he stammered and fidgeted a bit until he all but lifted me onto his lap. Impatient, I wrapped my fingers around his oil-slicked penis and guided it to my  prepared opening. It took some awkward attempts to get it right, but I was grateful for my buried (and heated) face against his neck to be concerned with how we both looked now.


(gently...gently...oh God yes...)


“So...fucking...tight...” he remarked breathlessly as I impaled myself slowly on his length until he could go no more. I released the breath I had been holding in and tried to steady my breathing. How else was one to describe this but to liken it to being stuffed full of something that seemed to have a life of its own.


(fused as this is...this is...)


He began to move, and I damn well near lost my mind. Tentatively at first, and after the one hundredth query of whether or not I was all right, I slapped a hand over his mouth, glared into his lust-filled eyes and gave him a straightforward command.


“Shut up and do it.”


Guess I should have known he’d take that all too literally, and trust me, I wasn’t complaining in the slightest. After the initial bout of pain, Naruto and I finally established a rhythm that we felt most comfortable with, and it didn’t take long for me to be swept up in his passion as well..


“So damn good,” he praised with every hard thrust, slamming inner walls and muscles with such intensity, I could no longer distinguish where my pleasure began and ecstasy was achieved. We fell back onto the futon, his hands releasing my waist to clasp my thighs as if I was some female he could –


(oh fuck the concept of thinking!)


I yanked him down to me to claim his lips in another torrid kiss as that familiar jolt of heady adrenaline began to surge through me. He must have felt it too for his thrusts became even more frenzied and yet somehow precise. He released my thighs to clutch my buttocks (where I’d have some lovely mementos of just how hard he had held me by tomorrow) and with a loud grunt that was swallowed in our kiss, I felt him stiffen above me, swell within me, before exploding his seed with his orgasm. The warm (nearly hot) sensation of his semen coating my inner walls and finally breaking free to trickle between my ass cheeks and thighs made me feel deliciously filthy. Coupled with my final release (a final thrust from him eventually triggered mine), I felt like I was literally bathing in cum. It was disgusting, revolting, grossly degrading...and yet I loved every second of feeling this...what’s the word now?


Slutty? Yes. I guess that was appropriate enough. I was nothing more than a wanton whore in this moment, and I couldn’t care less what anyone else thought of my actions.


Goodness knew I’d probably require an intense purification rite to cleanse me from this sin, and if Orochimaru was laughing somewhere in the depths of Hell at my current state, then fuck him too.


(at least you were right in one thing...this experience with another male...can be incredible)


I briefly entertained the thought of Naruto and I doing such a thing in his presence, and to see that alabaster face twisted with jealousy, hate, or lust was going to be so very worth all the torture he put me through.


“Jesus fucking Christ,” came the breathless gasp, which broke through my thoughts, as Naruto collapsed upon me with his face buried against my neck. He was still shaking (as I was), and as I finally lowered my legs (hadn’t even been aware I had wrapped them around his waist), I had to take several gulps of air to get my breathing back in some form of control. I couldn’t trust myself to speak...didn’t even dare to think of what I could say now. We had finally crossed that threshold of intimate relationships, and I had no idea if telling him about this ‘intensity’ within my heart would help matters.


Better to keep it to myself and simply bask in the afterglow of our...uh...lovemaking? Or whatever you wanted to call it.


“I never want to get up from here,” came the low mutter after what seemed like an eternity of us simply lying in each other’s arms. The musk of our coupling was heavy in the air, the stickiness now more evident, and I was more than aware that he still hadn’t pulled out from within me.


“Neither do I,” I confessed as I traced tiny circles on his lower back until I got to his toned buttocks to smack it gently. “But we have to...I bet the others are back now and they’ll probably wonder why  the hell you aren’t opening your door -”


“Or why you aren’t in your apartment,” he said with a smirk as he lifted his head to look at me.


Blushing I smacked him a little harder and forced him to withdraw (though I had to fight back a wince as a dull sore replaced his absence). Funny. I wanted him back again already, but I was a good way. I wanted to fall asleep in his arms until the nightmare of our reality, outside that door, was over.


He rolled onto his back and gave me a sheepish smile.


“But I do thank my lucky stars you decided to molest me in my sleep, Sasuke.”


“...not by choice...”


“Oh? Someone forced you then?”


I hit his forearm gently and gave a heavy sigh. “I did it because of what I told you earlier. You’ll be leaving tomorrow morning and I’m...well...who knows when we’ll get to see each other again. If this is going to be our last day or night together, I want it to be a meaningful one; a night you’ll never forget no matter how many females you decide to bed in the future.”


I forced down the bitter rise of jealousy and tried to shrug it off. It was a reality after all. I couldn’t expect Naruto to remain celibate for the rest of his life, did I?


“Well, if I decide to bed any other females in the future, I’ll just have to make sure they look like you.”


“...physically or ...wait a minute.” I sat up on my elbows to pin him with a dark stare. “You aren’t going to sleep with other men, are you?”


Naruto scratched the bridge of his nose and tried to look sheepish. “Well....”


“Naruto!” I growled angrily.


“I’m just kidding,” he appeased me quickly, trying to reach up to tug me back to him. “Come on, I wouldn’t sleep around with anyone like that...not after what happened just now. Damn.” He nuzzled me gently as I flushed in embarrassment. “That was ten times better than any sex I’ve had with a chick before, and I’m not saying that just to make you happy either.”


“...I’m flattered,” I grumbled still perturbed all the same. “I wouldn’t you know.”


“Wouldn’t what?”


“Sleep with anyone else,” I stated firmly, hoping he’d understand exactly what I was trying to say to him. “Until the day you tell me we will no longer be I have to come pick up your dead body...I will remain celibate.”


I held his gaze steady, watching them darken with an expression that was unreadable to me.


“You’re really serious about that, aren’t you?” he finally asked in an awed whisper. “If I didn’t know any better, it would almost seem like you” He blushed and cleared his throat before mumbling something beneath his breath that I couldn’t quite catch.


“What did  you say?” I inquired impatiently.


He gave me a shy glance and looking away again, his cheeks all but as bright red as tomatoes, he muttered quickly. “I said, it almost sounds like you’re in love with me or something, but that can’t be right...I’s wouldn’t be that way for someone like me.”


Someone like you? Why not?


“No,” I found myself saying instead. “I just really care about you. I doubt this or whatever you want to call it.”


“Right.” He nodded firmly. “Can’t be. Not that two guys can’t love each other, right? I mean Itachi and Shisui are like that, right?”




“So...whatever it is we’s just an intense friendship.”


“That works for me.”


“So you’ll remain celibate until I come back, right?”


“And you?”


He gave a dramatic sigh and rolled his eyes before grinning at me. “For you, I’ll cut off my dick if I have to...gonna be painful though, but anything to show you I’m damn serious too.”


I chuckled weakly and lay back beside him. Could be my imagination, but I was sure I could hear voices outside the door, a clear sign that the others were back and our little afternoon soiree had come to an end.


“They’re back,” I said quietly.


“Yeah...actually they’ve been back for a while.”




He snickered. “Right around the time we got started know...someone knocked at the door. Either that or we were the ones doing the knocking -”


“Oh my God!” I covered my face with my hands in utter and complete humiliation. I prayed feverishly that neither of us had cried out when we came or we would have a lot of explaining to do. “Why didn’t you say something?!”


“Say something?! You try speaking when you’re having your goddamn mind blown.”


“You are such a...hey!”


He never let me finish as he rolled over me again to claim my lips in a kiss that was only broken as he whispered against them in breathless earnest.


“We have only a few hours left, Sasuke. Why don’t we make the best of it until they really bang the door down to tear us apart? Like you said, I want this to be a day and night I’ll never forget for as long as I live.”


Oh, Uzumaki Naruto. Whatever am I going to do with you?


I reached up to pull him back to me, knowing damn well that there would be querying eyes, unspoken questions, accusing looks, and glares of disgust from those who would never understand. Our selfishness had to be sated for as long as we could manage it, and until the wee hours of the morning, we’d do our best to deny the world our presence.




And though I had expected it, though I had told myself I was going to have to accept it eventually, I lifted my lashes with the thin blades of sunlight peeking through the curtains signaling a new day and an emptiness within my heart. The deafening silence in the apartment told the story, the lingering scent of his musk and scent permeating the air with every shallow breath I took. I rolled onto my side to clutch the pillow to my chest, only to finally notice the hastily written note he had left behind.


Sorry. I’m no good with words like you, Sasuke

But I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for being a friend to me

In more ways than one.

You’re right. I will never forget yesterday until the day I die.

I liked the way we talked and got to know about each other a little better

And yes the sex was good too. Haha.

I think Shika (and the old perv) suspect what we were up to, but they are not saying anything

Though I told them I forgot something, so I ran back up here to leave you this note and kiss you goodbye.

Don’t laugh. You look so cute when you’re asleep anyway.

We are going to stop by the clinic too. I wanted to say goodbye to Haku even though I’m sure he won’t hear me. Or maybe he will in his mind.

So please take care of yourself while you are with Itachi. Don’t do anything stupid. That job should be reserved for me, all right?

I will count the days until I get to see you again.

Good luck and kick Snake Dude’s ass on my behalf.

-       Naruto




I hitched in a breath and read and reread the note until I could barely see the words anymore. Shameful and weak of me to be this emotional, but I was filled with such gratitude that he had done something this simple and meaningful before leaving. He might not have written the words a (small) part of me had longed to read, but I could ‘feel’ it all the same. In every scribble and (misspelled) word, I could feel his emotions for in the end that was all that truly mattered.


Do not forget me when the world threatens to claim you, Naruto, and when our quests for revenge have finally been sated, come find me. I’ll be waiting...for as long as it takes...until my final breath. I’ll always wait for you.





Chapter 35

Naruto Home































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