KaixDecayx: I'm having trouble getting him to be the bluff and bluster Sasuke we all know and love. Sorry.


"Are you sure this is a good idea "Shino asked for the umpteenth time. I clenched my finger and closed my eyes, begging for the strength not to throttle him. Each time he asked, I could tell he was hoping for a different answer than the one he always got, but there was no different answer for him to hear.

"Nope" Sasuke said, entirely unashamed and even proud that his idea might fail.

"You know you don't have to come, Shino. This isn't your problem" I shooed my hands at Shino, giving him the go ahead to leave if he so chose.

Shino said "I ...I think that might be best. My parents are probably expecting me back soon." But even as he said it, he fidgeted and bit his lip, hard, telling me, without words, that he was lying.

I sighed "Then you should go"

He nodded, trying to hide his relief. Or what I think is relief, I can't really tell with half his face covered like that. "Bye, I'll uh . . . see you late, I guess." Then he hurried away, rushing back the way we came and through a side passage that was a short cut to the market that most kids in the neighborhood used. I used it quite a lot during nighttime attacks because most adult can't fit.

Sasuke made a face "I'm not quite sure I like that kid, but he did save your life so I guess, I got to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least" Sasuke scratched the side of his head, annoyed.

I laughed and shook my head "Shall we" I offered him my hand.

He rolled his eyes but nevertheless, extended his arm in an undeniable invitation, and he replied with "We shall" And we pressed on.

As we walked, I studied Sasuke. He was walking like he was trying not to run, he was clearly in a hurry. His steps weren't long but they were rapid. It was amazing to watch. If I hadn't known better I would have thought he was a dancer or something, he was just unconsciously graceful.

He was the complete opposite of me. I trudge along the pavement at a sedated pace, struggling to keep up with Sasuke and his ninja walk. While I do think this is the best plan possible, I'm not very excited about it. In fact, there's a horrible knot in my stomach and worry bubble in my throat, putting me on edge. I didn't want Sasuke to get in trouble for me. I didn't want anyone getting in trouble for me.

"You look worried"

"I do not" I lied.

"Yes, you do. You're fidgeting."

"I do not fidget" I yelled indignantly.

"Don't bother denying it. I know you too well" He accused, pointing at my chest, while still walking. We were cutting through the park, walking though the part of the forest that didn't have a set path and was rarely visited. I crunched grass and rocks under foot, squishing pine cone for the fun of it. I hopped over a long-forgot, long-uprooted tree trunk and laughed when Sasuke made a face at the moss and dirt on it and chose to go around.

"Chicken" I teased

"There nothing wrong with keeping clean" He rationalized, crossing his arms defiantly.

I laughed again, leaning down. I grabbed a handful of mud and splattered it onto my person and even into my hair. I smeared even more on my face.

"Give me a hug" I cooed, opening my arm.

"Don't even think about it" He warns, backing away from me.

"Come here" I started toward him

"Oh no. Ugh, GET AWAY. No" He turned and fled.

"What?! Am I that ugly" I yelled running after him.

"Don't come any closer" Sasuke crashed through branches, tearing a clear path through the woods. I smiled. He's making this too easy.

I smiled deceivingly "Of course, I won't. Just stop-. Wait, do you hear that" I slowed down. What is that sound. It's almost like . . . whimpering.

"Oh nice try, but I'm not gonna fall for it" He called back.

"This isn't a trick" I slowed to a walk "Just stop for a second, okay. Listen. I think it came from over-" I pointed to a small gasp between two trees "-there"

Sasuke jogged back apprehensively but nevertheless, cocked his head in the direction I pointed "Listen!? But I don't hear anything. Just the wind-" A small whimper passed through, seeming to come from the tree itself.

"You heard it that time right"

"Yeah, I think so. What is it? Some kind of animal, maybe" We hesitantly approached the tree, wary of some kind of trick or wild beast.

"Only one way to find out right"

"Wait. Don't" Sasuke grabbed my wrist "Let's just leave, It could be dangerous."

"But what if it needs our help"

"That's not our problem. I swore to protect you. What if somehow you get hurt? What would I do then? I know we both don't want that . . . right"

I narrowed my eye till they were slits "I won't abandon someone who needs help Sasuke, you know that"

He clenched his fist and closed his eye "Hey, you know what I see"

"Uh, nothing"

"A short life. Yours, if anything happens"

"SASUKE"

He gave me a long, angry look, before slumping in defeat " You wouldn't be you if you started being cold like that. It's against your nature. "He shook his head" Okay, but we're going to be careful"

"Careful is my middle name" I said, smiling devilishly.

"OH GOD, We're all dead. Goodbye cruel world"

"Oh, Hush!" I said, angling my body through the gap between the trees.

At first look, the animal appeared to be as brown as the ground around it but on closer look, I realized that it was covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. Everything about it was stiff and ugly, with some of its fur was missing and horrible long slashes down its back. Something must have attack it. Something with claws and/or teeth. For a moment I thought the creature was actually dead, but it let out another whimper and I knew better.

I approached it slowly, trying not to startle him. Hurt animal will attack at the slightly provocative so I had to be calm and not give it a reason.

The animal rolled it head back to look at me. My breath stuck in my throat. "Sasuke, he's a dog." I suddenly wanted to run "I-I can't . . . I can't do Th-this" I started breathing too fast and memories flashed before my eyes.

A hand caught me on the forearm, gently pulling me back. "A dog. Get out of there. Let me handle this. Take a step back"

I nodded numbly, thankful for his understanding. There was this one time, during the nightly village attack, when several Inzuka's joined the mob of citizen. It was unusual to say the least. Unusual and way more dangerous. During this attack, those sickos seemed to think it would be funny to set their dogs on me.

And the dog bit and scratched and tore at my flesh, scaring me permanently on my back, arms and legs. The scars were faint, thanks to a cream Iruka-sensei gave me, but they were still visible.

And ever since, I've been terrified of dogs.

It's just that their teeth and there claws and there hot slobbering, disgusting mouths are so, so, so-

Oh my god, I can't breathe.

I slid down, against a tree, my knees too shaky to hold my weight anymore. Sasuke slid through the gap and instead of going for the dog, made a beeline to my side and gripped my forearm reassuringly.

"I-I c-c-c-can't-" It's looking at me, with its cold, dead . . . scared eyes. "He's . . . Sasuke he's afraid." I suddenly wanted to comfort the small creature but I couldn't make my legs move. I was too weighed down with fear and breathlessness "G-g-g-go help. I'm okay now" It wasn't quite a lie but it was enough.

"Okay" He squeezed my forearm again and approached the dog cautiously.

"Hey there, boy. I'm not here to hurt you. I just want to help" He spoke calmly and smoothly, never faltering. Sasuke knelt dog by his head. Slowly, he reached forward to pat between the ears. And the dog, lunged forwards, locking his jaw around Sasuke's fingers.

I let out a loud, high pitch yelp and clapped my hand over my mouth.

Yet Sasuke barely moved "That hurts." The young Uchiha snarled" What is it? Are you scared of me or something? And I thought you Inzuka's dogs were supposed to be smart. If we wanted to hurt you, we would just leave you here."

I blinked in surprise. He's talking to the dog. Then what Sasuke said really hit me. I backed up as much as I could into the tree. That's an Inzuka dog.

"How- How do you know" I asked, my voice strangled.

Sasuke didn't look at me when he answered "You don't find very many white pups with brown ears around here"

"It-It's a baby" I gulped, shivering slightly. Then I tilted my head in confusion, distracted despite myself "White. There's no way it's white. "

He rolled his eyes "Just trust me. It's white"

"Maybe you're color blind"

"I am not"

"Then you should know the difference between white and brown"

"I do know the differ- Ow" I stiffened, but it was just the dog releasing Sasuke's hand. I quickly looked over the bite marks and were pleasantly surprised to see the teeth didn't even break skin.

"There. Now was that so hard." Sasuke said, smugness radiating from him. I saw him give the dog a once over before motioning me forward "its okay, I don't think he can move."

"Either way, I'm good here" I said, a little too quickly to be casual.

He gave a little sigh but didn't push. "Where do you think his-?"

"Or hers " I corrected, as it was the first thing I thought of.

"Yeah, whatever. So where do you think its owner is "I stiffened. I had been called it too many time in my life to ever be comfortable with that word.

"I don't know. Maybe . . . "I trailed off, uncertain on what our next move was. No matter how much I dislike dogs, I wasn't just going to leave her here to die. That's not my style.

"We'll take him to the Inzuka compound they might know how to help. And I'll protect you from anything they might try" He said, after catching sight of my face and correctly interpreting my fear. "Alright, up you go doggy" Pushing off of the ground with the small dog in his arm, he jerked him head in a west-ward direction. "This way"

"What about your plan. You know to blackmail, or whatever, the Council"

"Aww, we can do that later" He said, dismissively.

I nodded, numbly.

The walk was agonizing. Every few seconds I had to look at the creature in Sasuke's arm, then when I saw him, gore and all, I immediately looked at the ground again so as not to give the appearance of staring. Her whimpering were unbearable too. They reminded too much of the sounds I make during a particularly difficult beating. I tried, without success to tune it out. I also struggled not to fell sympathetic, not too reach over and pet the dogs brown fur in soothing circles the same way Sasuke and Itachi- . . .

I suddenly became very interested in my muddy, worn-down shoes.

"Are we there yet" I complained, after a good 10 minute walk in total silence.

"In a few-"

"AKAMARU. YOU FOUND HIM. OH, THANK GOD." A boy about Sasuke's age, just a little older than myself, was running toward us frantically, almost like he was being chased by killer bees or an angry mamma bear.

The boy barreled into Sasuke, nearly knocking him off his own two feet. The kid, then panicking, grabbed Sasuke by the shoulder, causing them both to collapse in a heap of tangled limbs. As Sasuke and the kid both went tumbling down, I took this opportunity to study the new arrival. He was definitely an Inzuka, since attire consisted of their stereotypical dark greyish pants, that barely reached his calves and an unmistakable grey, hoody lined with fur. Plus two red triangle marking, one on each cheek. All of it combined set him out as an Inzuka immediately. With almost one glance, I could tell.

The boy, scooped up the brown, dirty, injured dog in his arms and cradled him like a tired baby. Murmuring to the creature in soft tones, the boy basically ignored us in favor of the dog. I exchanged a look with Sasuke, who rolled his eyes at the boy's antics.

A soft crunching sound was the only forewarning we had that someone else was coming too. "Kiba . . . Where are- KIBA. Get away from there. GET AWAY FROM IT"

I looked up at the second newcomer and nearly bite my tounge in two. It was her. One of the Inzuka's who likes to set dog on defenseless little girls. It was all I could do to not scream.

The boy, for the first time I might add, turned away from his dog "Sis. Sis, I found him. Akamaru. He's back" This kid either didn't hear his sister or was just straight up ignoring her. His smile was so big it probably hurt.

The sister came barreling at me. I could see hatred and bloodlust in her eye as well as etched on her face. She didn't have any weapons but I knew that didn't make her any less dangerous. She could easily kill me with her bare hands. There's probably thousands of ways that she could off me with just her thumb.

I tried to make a sound, to alert Sasuke that something was wrong, but no sound would come out. I struggled to breathe. To take air in. I was frozen and if it hadn't been for Sasuke's intervention, that girl probably would have eighty-sixth me right then and there.

Sasuke jumped in front, pulled out a kunai and hurled it shaky but true, right at her very pretty face. Of course, her being a very skilled ninja, she dodged it with ease but it was enough to make her pause for a second.

And a second was all Sasuke needed "Try that again, and I'll kill you right here and now." The girl didn't flinch but I did. I didn't want Sasuke in danger or in trouble because of me. I bit my lip.

"As if you could" The girl challenged, pulling out her own Kunai.

Sasuke tilted his head to the side, considering her and the deadly weapon" Well, maybe I can't kill you but what about your precious little brother" His eye slid over the Inzuka still cradling the dog lovingly.

The Sister let out a furious snarl "Leave my brother alone"

"Then you leave my sister alone, you ugly harpy" Sasuke growled, equally as pissed.

The girl's hand twitched towards her pouch once again, debating about whether or not to get more weapons.

Sister Inzuka has pretty long brown hair tied in a long ponytail with an additional two locks of hair framing her face over piercing, black eyes. She also wears a light shade of lipstick, which struck me as odd that a ninja of her caliber cared about her looks so much.

Her traditional fang-like tattoos of the Inzuka clan on both of her cheeks, matched her brother almost perfectly. In addition there was a tattoo on her upper right arm that closely resembles a flower. Wearing the beige Konoha medic uniform only worn when on duty in the village, she was definitely pushing the limits of the uniform regulations by keeping the front of her jacket unzipped, exposing her cleavage to any wandering eyes who has an interest.

She was as beautiful as Itachi was handsome. I doubt I'll ever look that good when I'm her age. If I get to be her age. With me you never know.

"Leave now" I said, speaking up for the first time. "We didn't come for a fight. We just found a hurt animal in the woods and thought you guys might be able to help"

From the disbelieving look and sarcastic snort that followed my word, I knew that the older girl didn't really believe me.

The little brother, now known as Kiba, was looked from me and Sasuke to his older sister. He did so repeatedly, like he was trying to get water out of his ear. Finally he stopped and spoke up. "Sis, it's okay. No harm done. Besides, Akamaru needs my help. He needs your help"

Her face soften fractionally and she looked over the pup in her brothers arms. She nodded, conceding to her brother with poor grace.

With one last furious look at me, to which Sasuke step in front and blocked, Sister Inzuka scooped up her brother and sped off, in what I assume to be the direction of their compound.

I let out a chocked sound, something between a gasp and a yelp. My hand trembled but I tightened my grip until it stopped.

"Well . . . that was . . . something" Sasuke said, sliding his arm around my shoulder "You okay"

"Yeah, I'm good" I said, without even knowing if it was true or not.

He looked unsure, but still determined "We have things to do. A lot more things to do"

Those words reminded me what we had set out to do. Blackmail the Council. Immediately a thousand butterflies opened up in my stomach.

"I don't know if this is such a good idea, bro. I mean-"

"Don't worry so much. Be fun. Be spontaneous. Don't be-" He gestured to myself

"You just pointed to all of me" I complained. It's a dark day for us when I have to be the mature and responsible one.

"Exactly"


15 minutes and several blocks later


"Are you ready" The overbearing, seemingly gigantic door was right in front of us. The council, made up of a group of civilians and ninja's alike, meets up here every day to discuss important matters going on within the village. From the limited knowledge, I know that every clan has one representative who fight for them (when Sasuke reaches the age 18 he will go on the council too as the Uchiha rep) and the civilians leaders are voted on by those not within a clan.

I stared at the Hokage symbol carved into the wood and tried not to feel nervous. This all depends on one thing. Whether or not the council cares about Sasuke and his future, more than they hate me.

If they don't care enough, then we're screwed.

If they do, then . . . it will still be hard. For me more than anyone.

"Do I have a choice?"

He raised an eyebrow "You can leave"

I glared at him "Not on your life"

Okay then. Let's go! "

With one dramatic flair, he thrust the door open and marched right in.

It wasn't like in one of Yukie Fujikaze movies. (She's the princess from "Clash in the land of snow") Where the hero strolls into a bar or into a battle and the whole scene freezes and everyone looks up. Then he delivers some pulse pounding speech or bust out some badass moves and everything magically solves itself.

It was almost comical the way things happened. The music didn't stop like in the movies and the people didn't wondrously freeze but instead everyone jump at the loud slamming sound the door made and several civilians actually spilled there coffee and tea all over themselves or their neighbors.

One person fell off her chair, accidentally pulling the table cloth along too. Plus everything else around her too as a matter of fact. Mugs, plates, forks, knives, notes and important documents rained down. It took all I had not to laugh at the horrified look on everyone's faces.

But apparently some of the actual council members couldn't help themselves.

Shikaku Nara, representative of the Nara clan, threw his head back and laughed loudly, tilting his chair back by placing his foot on the table "And here I thought this meeting was going to be boring. I should thank my wife for forcing me to be here" He looked at us, me and Sasuke, still standing by the door. "Oh, look it's the monster." He eyed me critically "From how everyone's talking, I expected you to breathe fire and to have horns. I'm disappointed." He yawned and set his chair down, firmly on the floor. "Oh well. Things are going to get interesting, if I had to guess. So . . . thanks for that"

As if brought on by his words, a quiet voice filled the area. Most of the occupants of the room hadn't even looked at us yet, distracted by the mess and focused on trying to save their precious notes.

And yet, one man, away from the mess, was still siting, calmly sipping his tea. He didn't even glance over at the catastrophe happening only a few feet away from him and was instead looking at me.

"What" I asked stupidly.

"I asked what are you doing here" His words weren't threatening, they were inviting even but I knew him and I knew his clan. I wouldn't trust them farther than I could throw the Hokage monument.

"I think that's all of our business, Hyūga. Not just yours "Another voice snapped. Chōza Akimichi, clan leader for the Akimichi clan, which was by far the fattest clan in all of the leaf village, stood up, holding a broken tea cup. He regarded me coldly. "Why are you here, children?"

Sasuke took control "I am here to talk about get Naruto Uzamaki into the Ninja academy, specifically my year. I want her to be in my class and then later on my team"

You could have heard a pin drop when Sasuke said "Ninja academy". Everyone froze, (And here I thought they hadn't even noticed us yet) some stiffened in the middle of cleaning up while others iced up in the middle of shaking off their coffee splattered notes. But even that couldn't compare to when Sasuke said he wanted me on "his team" . . . It was so bad that I had to be the voice of reason, trying to calm everyone down. Almost everyone, who hadn't already been on there feet, jumped to their feet. Even more people started screeching and wailing about the danger and that I could not be trusted. If people had been walking by the door when Sasuke made his announcement, they would have thought a bomb had gone off. All the screaming and the throwing things and the pounding of fist on the desk.

The mess had been all but forgotten.

And you know, when I have to be the responsible one, it means that everyone in the whole wide world had LOST THERE EVER-LOVING MINDS.

"Absurd. No way we would allow that" An old bleached blond women screeched

Shikaku Nara tilted his head to the side and laughed "Sure, she could teach my son a few things"

"I think it's a good idea. As long as we're not responsible for any accidents that might happen while she's there" That girl had a lot of nerve acting so high an mighty when she still had an edge of the table cloth tucked into her pants. This was the idiot who pulled the cloth from the table. And here she was lecturing me.

"The monster o'tta be killed for even suggesting it" Someone else sputtered, slipping unconsciously into a thick accent. It also apparently went over there head that I wasn't the one who suggested it.

A younger girl, looks to be the youngest here, shrugged and said "Why not. What's the harm?"

"Puuuuullllllleeeeezzzzzz" Someone scoffed

"Stop it. Everyone calm down. Please, just . . ." I turned to Sasuke "Do something. They're going to kill each other"

He shrugged "I say 'More power to them'. Not my problem"

"And then there going to kill us"

"Okay, Okay. Point taken" Placing two fingers in his mouth, he let out a high pitch whistle that cause everyone to flinch. "We're not done here yet"

"I think you are" said the Hyūga leader "Who here would actually be stupid enough to vote for such a- a- such a blatantly foolish plan. "He jabbed his fingers at me "Giving it power would just put the whole village in danger, surely you must see that"

"And even if we allow it to train, the monster is two years younger than you. The youngest the academy accepts is 10, it is 8." A gaudy women with too much make-up pointed out "Even if you are rather small for your age, you are-"

"I. DON'T. CARE." Everyone jumped at the pure force behind his words

Chōza clenched his fist and looked at Sasuke "Stop acting like a spoiled brat. You are the last of the Uchiha's. You must carry yourself with more pride and dignity, son. "He cast me a scathing look "Associating with filth such as this will only success is soiling your bright future as a ninja of the leaf village" Sasuke and I exchanged at look, suddenly more hopeful.

Sasuke plowed on "Naruto will join the Ninja academy"

"Like I said before, even if we do allow it, it will be two years before-"

Sasuke slammed his tiny hand on the table "If she has to wait two years to be a ninja, then so do I. If Naruto is not admitted to the academy now, then I will flunk out of the academy and re-join in two year." There was a stunned silence following his declaration. Sasuke paid them no attention and charged on "And if you refuse to let me leave, then I'll get held back every year until Naruto is-"

"Preposterous. How could you even think of ruining your future for this . . . this . . . . this . . . . . thing "As the screaming and protest started up again, I lost my temper

"SHUT UP AND LET THE MAN SPEAK" I snarled "IF YOU KEEP INTERUPTING HIM EVERY FIVE SECOND WE'RE NEVER GOING TO GET ANYWHERE"

I was rewarded with one very surprised room of people. Most of the people here had never heard me raise my voice before. I had been too afraid of them before but now there just pissing me off. I can take a lot of abuse but I will not stand by and let people disrespect Sasuke.

"Thank you, Naruto. And like I said before, once we both gradate we must be placed on the same team. This is not up for debate. If not then both of us will-"

"Leave the academy and try again later. I think we get it, child" The third Hokage walked into the room, closely followed by 3 Anubis guards. His old face looked, surprisingly, amused.

"Lord Hokage " Inoichi Yamanaka, a high ranking member of the Konohagakure Intelligence Division, and the head of the Yamanaka clan, not to mention a former member of the famous Ino–Shika–Chō trio, stood up and nodded his head respectfully.

The Hokage raised his hand "No need to stand on ceremony, Yamanaka. I am, as the young people say, off the clock."

Me and Sasuke shared a look. I have never said of heard a 'young person' say "off the clock before". How old is this guy. A hundred. A hundred and fifty. And if he's really off duty then why does he have so many guards around him. I smell Bullshit.

"With all due respect sir" Inoichi inclined his head" as far as I'm concerned, you are never 'off the clock'. You will always be the Lord Hokage "I rolled my eyes. What a suck up. I mean, there's no way this guy is really that uptight.

"Enough of that " Shibi Aburame ordered, lacing his fingers together right in front of his face "I believe we have more pressing matters to attend to." I looked him over critically. So this is Shino's clan leader, Huh. I wonder if he also deals in bug based Jutsu. I never had much to do with the Aburame clan. I mean, beside the few that join in for the weekly gang-up-on-the-demon night.

"Right" Dozens of eyes were, once again, focused on me and Sasuke "What do we do about them"

"I see no other option. We give them what they want."

"But sir-"

"No way"

"Hell no"

One guy threw himself into a chair "This village is going to the dogs, huh"

"If this happens then I'm pulling my kid out of school. He cannot be taught in the same place as that thing"

"If- QUIET- If that's what you want to do then I cannot stop you. That is your right as parents "He stopped, and looked everyone in the eyes, spending a few seconds on each person "But who here wants to be the one who robs Konohagakure of the boys potential. The last Uchiha must be trained. Who here disagrees with that point?"

The silence was deafening.

When it didn't seem like anyone was going to speak, I opened my mouth "So . . . Are you gonna vote now or . . . what"

With one last defeated look, the council member, shakily, took their seat. Someone stepped on a tea cup and the crunching sound filled the empty room.

"Excellent, shall we- Oh "The Third Hokage gave a short gestured over his shoulder" Could you 3 please fetch a mop and broom. "He gave me a quick glance "It seems we have quite a mess here"

I smiled "Yes, it seems we do"


4 minutes later


I sat on the steps of the Hokage building and looked out at the Hokage monument. In front of us is the Hokage square and the Hokage Park. And if you didn't notice by now, then let me tell you, we use the word Hokage way too much when naming our public places. If I ran this place, that'd be the first thing I'd change.

I fumed quietly at being asked to leave the room as the deliberated. I didn't even know what they were discussing. It's not like we left them much choice. Either they do what we want and they get there master ninja Uchiha or they don't and they lose the last honorable member of one of the villages most prestigious and feared clans. It seemed like a no brainer to me. I mean, it's not like we're asking for an arm and a leg.

I shifted forward and put my hand on my cheek. I wondered vaguely if I should sneak back up there and eavesdrop on their meeting. I knew that Sasuke, who had been permitted to stay, would fight twice as hard since I'm gone but I still felt bad for not being there. And after I promised never to leave him. I'm such a liar.

And I couldn't get rid of the feeling that he might be needing me right now, wishing, even, that I would walk through that door and talk his hand in mine. Silently, I wrapped my hands around my shoulder, creating an x with my arms. Shivering slightly at the clammy feeling, I moved my fingers up and down to create friction.

The doors behind me flew open, narrowly missing me. I jumped to my feet, hands falling limply at my side. My shoulders cooled quickly at the lack of contact.

Sasuke hopped down the step and threw his arms around me.

"WE DID IT. WE DID IT. THEY DECIDED TO LET YOU JOIN ME IN THE ACADEMY" A smiles spread across my face and I wrapped my arms around him too. Howled with joy, he picked me up and twirled me around. I laughed joyously and threw my arms up. I loved the way the wind pushed at my skin.

I was so caught up in the warmth and amazement of this news that I didn't, at first, notice how much attention we were getting. And they weren't even trying to be quiet. It's like they wanted me to hear. Like they wanted to get a rise, a reaction from me.

"Disgusting"

"It's sickening"

"I don't know how he can stand it"

"What do you think it did to him? Brainwashing, maybe"

"Definitely blackmail. That appalling thing would do anything to get what it wants" I tensed, instinctively knowing "it" referred to me. I lowered my head, the smile falling from its place. I buried my face into his shoulder. He ducked his head too and pressed his cheek into the side of my head. To any by stander it would just look like I was so overcome with joy that I couldn't stand it and I need his support.

Only me and Sasuke would ever now about the wet spot I was making on his shirt or the eerie tightness in Sasuke's muscles that let me know he too heard what they said.

"Ignore them. There not worth it. It's you and me now. US against the world, now and forever" He promised and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what he just said.

I smiled bitterly, knowing I had just, deliberately and willingly, latched his to the village outcast. Abruptly, I was disgusted with myself. How could I be so selfish? I was going to ruin whatever future Sasuke still had without his parents. He had lost and suffered so much, how could I possible want to add to his burden.

"Oh shut up, you soulless harpy's" Iruka-sensei glared at everyone around as he quickly approached our little huddle. He herded us off the Hokage building steps and down into an alley way.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're taking us here to stab us in the back where no one can see. Maybe put a damp cloth full of chemical over our faces until we stop kicking" I mused, my hand intertwined with Sasuke's

"Or He's leading us to kidnappers in exchange for a hefty rewards. Like in that movie, you know the one with the bar fight where the guy-"

Iruka sensei whirled around, his whole frame trembling with suppressed rage and exasperation. His hands twitch and clenched like he was aching to grab us both by the front of our shirt and shack us until we learned a lesson. "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING"

"I-I . . . I-" I have never seen Iruka-sensei this mad before. In this moment, I could see why some people might fear him. Why, when he stands up for me, whether it be against other Shinobi or the villagers, they don't dare push or challenge him.

I could see in this moment what a terror it would be if he decided to hate me too.

An undignified squeak popped out of my mouth and I shrank back, folding in to myself, just like I did the first time I met Sasuke and Itachi.

Without hesitation Sasuke stepped forward, getting into Iruka-sensei's face "Back. Off." he warned flatly.

Ignoring him Iruka-sensei went on "DO REALIZE HALF OF WHAT YOU JUST DID. ALL THE PEOPLE YOU JUST PISSED OFF. ALL THE RULES YOU JUST BROKE." He grabbed Sasuke's arm, nearly lifting him up off the ground. Sasuke grimaced and plunged his hand into the pouch at his hip, going for a kunai knife.

"Cool it, you guy" I yelped, breaking out from my little huddle to jump up and grab Iruka-sensei's arm. He could easily hold us both up but after a few seconds hesitation, he reluctantly he let us down. A moment afterwards he released Sasuke and took a step back, letting out a breath. He closed his eye "Okay . . . O-Okay. I'll cool it" His mocking tone was like a punch in the face. He opened his baby blue's, his pupils like steel "I'll cool it, once you tell me what on earth possessed you to make such a stupid and rash choice." His eye slide over to Sasuke "And you, letting her, helping her."

"Don't yell at him. This is my fault. He was only trying to help and protect me. I needed to get into the academy and, maybe even more importantly, into his year. They weren't going to let that happen. T-this just seemed like the best plan "I rubbed the back of my head "Heh, at the time"

"This was the only plan

"The academy. You were serious about that. Now I've heard it all. You can't honestly believe you can do this, Naruto"

"What's that supposed to mean" Sasuke barked. He spread his hands in front of me, as if he could somehow protect me from the harshness of Iruka-sensei's words. Grateful, but determined, I shifted so I was slightly in front of him. I was going to his rock. I was going to be the one to protect him.

"I'm not mean. I'm just being honest. Brutally honest but honest nonetheless. Look guys, I work at the academy and I know it's no place for someone like her"

Just because you don't have faith in Naruto doesn't mean that the rest of us don't. She will succeed" He reached out and gently took my hand, rubbing it softly, as if to say, without words, 'I'll make sure of it'

"Oh please" he gestures at me "She's a little girl. If she does this, she's going to fall on her face"

The ground tilted and for a second I thought that there was an earth quake happening. I waited for the ground to open up and swallow me or for lightning to come down and strike me across the face. I've would have expected that to happen before I expected this.

Iruka-sensei. Doesn't. Believe. In. me. Anymore. I swallowed thickly, my throat suddenly very dry. I couldn't speak. I had never experience something this painful before. I clamped my hand over where my heart would be. My fingers pushed so hard into my skin that I was sure to have bruises.

"You don't know that" Sasuke refuted, lashing out with his hand. I barely registered what he was doing or the fact that he had a very sharp Kunai clenched between his fingers.

"Yes, I do" Iruka-sensei easily caught Sasuke, knocking the knife from his hand with ease. I just stood there, too shocked to do much of anything. With a strong thrust, the older man shoved the young Uchiha back, sending him sprawling into the alley wall.

I clenched my hand, taken off guard by how painful his words are. I was no stranger to harsh words and degrading statements.

So why do these hurt so much. Why was it like I was burning up from the inside out?

How. I mean, it didn't even hurt this much when Itachi betra-

I sucked in a second gasp, clutching my head and my stomach at once. Nausea and an even more intense pain shot through my body, kind of like I was experiencing the after effects of a really bad beating.

Itachi.

Itachi.

Itachi.

I had known it and not known it. My brain couldn't rid themselves of the image of my kind, caring older brother.

I had seen it but not seen it. What had happened to Sasuke's clan and the fact that it had been Itachi's fault hadn't clicked until this moment. I had been blocking it, erasing it from my memory.

I had felt it but not felt it. The hole in my shoulder from Itachi's weapon throbbed and pounded. (My wound had been cleaned and dressed when Iruka-sensei found me, probably by Itachi)

Itachi

Was

A

Traitor

I hadn't believe it, not really, until this moment. Even with all the evidence that had been thrusted at me, I- . . . . I didn't. Not until it was the first thing my mind reached for when I thought of him. The first thing I pictured when I thought of him. Was the bloody Kunai he pulled out of my shoulder? The cruel, blood splattered man who held my with such heartless and spiteful fingers wasn't Itachi to me. It was someone who happened to look like Itachi. And any minute now, the really Itachi would come walking into the village with an explanation and an apology.

He'd cry with us over the loss of his clan and laugh with us when the pain finally ebbed. He would hold us and take care of us again. Just like he used to.

Right.

I heard Iruka-sensei and Sasuke continue to talk, but the words were distorted and meaningless.

"I could have . . . . . construct . . . . . plan. I . . . . . . Have-ha-" Bits and pieces filtered through my shock.

I looked over everything I had learned about Itachi, everything I knew. There was nothing strange or suspicious about his action. Nothing to make me question what he did or why he did it. We knew why he did what he did. HE even admitted it, right to our faces. But there was just too much of it. Too much of everything. Like a smile with too many teeth or a room with too much crammed in it.

'Wrong. There had to be something wrong'. A slight dizziness filled my head, like fog. 'There had to be something I'm missing.'

'H-he couldn't b-be- ' I couldn't finish that thought.

He d-didn't do what everyone said he did. HE couldn't have. I refuse to believe-

"HE JUST COULDN'T HAVE" It took me a second to realize that I had said that out loud.

"What are you talking about Naruto?"