Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Title: Hyakumensou (Life's many phases)

Warnings: Yaoi. Ita/Naru. Characters may be OCC because they are older and wiser than cannon.

Summary: A contract signed eighteen years ago has turned Naruto's life upside down. How will he cope with this new, troubling development in his life that he cannot escape?










Tsunade sneezed then coughed until tears gathered in her eyes. Her lips curled in disgust at the amount of dust that had gathered on the files that were stored in the room.

She silently cursed Shizune as her coffee colored eyes scanned the room. She needed a special file, according to Sandaime's journal there was a file under Naruto's name that could only be opened by the Hokage and it was very important.

Tsunade silently looked through the loads of files and finally found what she was looking for.

Name: Namikaze Naruto a.k.a Uzumaki Naruto.

Status: Anbu Captain: Codename: Karasu

Age: 17 years 10 months.

Team-mates: Hyuuga Neji (Ookami), Yamanaka Ino (Neko), Sarutobi Konohamaru (Kitsune)


Gennin at 12. Team-mates: Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, Hatake Kakashi (Jounin Sensei)

Chunin at 15. Team-mates: Uchiha Sasuke, Hyuuga Hanabi, Hatake Kakashi (Jounin Sensei)

Jounin at 16. Partner during examination: Uchiha Sasuke. Mentor: Sannin Jiraiya

ANBU at 16. Accepted immediately after Jounin examinations. Mentor: Yamamura Hitoshi.

Promoted to captaincy 8 months after the start of service.


Hatake Kakashi: Imaginative and Innovative Shinobi with a lot of potential. Somewhat idealistic and naïve. Average skills. (First official assessment. Naruto: Age 12yrs, 2 months)

Hatake Kakashi: Dedicated, above average learning ability, versatile. Proficient in the use of Kage Bunshin No Jutsu. Lacks chakra control and stealth. (Second Official assessment. Naruto: Age 12yrs, 7 months, 19 days)

Jiraiya: Dedicated, hardworking and a swift learner. Shows natural affinity toward high level jutsus and complicated sealing methods. Lacks proper TaiJutsu training. Shows signs of improper preliminary training. (First official assessment. Naruto: Age 13yrs)

Jiraiya: Vast improvement since last report. Possesses a large arsenal of B rank to S rank jutsus. Most proficient in wind and ice elements, favors water element. High speed TaiJutsu. Prefers the use of Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. Uses his full potential only when needed, not during training. (Second official assessment. Naruto: Age 15yrs, one month)

Jiraiya: Specializes in Nin Jutsu and Fuuin Jutsu. Incapable of GenJutsu at high levels. High levels of speed and precision. Has shows interest in KenJutsu. Requires specialized training in stealth and espionage. (Third official assessment. Naruto: Age 16yrs, 3 months, 6 days)

Yamamura Hitoshi: Good leadership qualities. Shows innovative reasoning and his quick to think on his feet. Excels in Nin Jutsu, Fuuin Jutsu and KenJutsu. Moulds Red chakra with expert efficiency but does not utilize it often. Requires training in recognizing GenJutsu and basic Healing Jutsu. Shows improvement in stealth and espionage. (First official assessment. Naruto: Age 17yrs, 2 months)

Yamamura Hitoshi: No further training required. (Final ANBU Mentor assessment. Naruto: Age 17yrs, 9 months, 22 days)

Mission record:

D-Rank: 160 missions

B-Rank: 37 missions

A-Rank: 46 missions (team)

A-Rank: 16 missions (solo)

S-Rank: 13 missions (team)

S-Rank: 8 missions (solo)

SS-Rank: 2 missions (solo)

Background: Vessel of Kyuubi no Yoko. High healing rate. High adaptability. An 89 percent personal success rate and 93 percent team success rate.

Self-updating report compiled by:

Head of Torture and Investigation Department: Morino Ibiki

Assistant Head of Shinobi Assessment Department: Watanabe Hikaru

Head of Recruitment and Disciplinary Department: Inoue Takao

Commander of ANBU: Nakamura Yukito

ANBU Mentor: Yamamura Hitoshi

Tsunade frowned. There was nothing special in the report except for the fact that Naruto's real name was mentioned. It was like any other file on a Shinobi. However, there was another file that was marked as confidential.

She opened that file.

Subject of S-Class secret: Kyuubi no Yoko, Namikaze Clan inheritance.

Please refer to the Uchiha-Namikaze betrothal contract.

That gave Tsunade a pause. 'Uchiha-Namikaze betrothal contract?'

She turned the pages in the file and found the contract. As she read on, she became increasingly pale. Minato had made an inescapable betrothal contract between the Uchiha and the Namikaze. There was no way Naruto could avoid this. The contract even stipulated a deadline, that it must be fulfilled by Naruto's 18th birthday, no excuses permitted.

Worst of all was the fact that it was not Uchiha Sasuke that Naruto was promised to, it was Uchiha Itachi.

The infamous nuke-nin Uchiha Itachi.

The strongest Shinobi of Konoha who was undercover on an espionage and assassination mission that lasted for over 9 years.

She read on…

On Naruto's nineteenth birthday, the Kyuubi seal will consume the demon because it is now very powerful with years of nurture by Naruto's special chakra.

However, this is not pleasant news for Naruto for it will overload his system with Kyuubi's chakra and that will test Naruto's mental and physical limits. It is possible that he might be overwhelmed by Kyuubi's malevolent chakra and he will lose his sanity.

I had to find some way to prevent this.

It has been found that some Uchiha, as Uchiha Madara can suppress chakra and it has been proved that it can, to an extent suppress Kyuubi's.

This betrothal contract came into being when I was making plans for sealing Kyuubi. The Kyuubi that was fast approaching our village and I know I must sacrifice myself and my son to protect it.

Naruto will only be able to tolerate Kyuubi's sinister chakra as chakra system continues to change and develop. That will stop around the time when a chakra system attains full maturity within a Shinobi. That usually happens around the age of 19 years.

Kyuubi's chakra is malevolent and sinister. It is as though it has a life of its own. I cannot let it override Naruto's sanity when it overloads his system. It will take years for that chakra to be converted into Naruto's special chakra and though, this would not hamper his abilities at all… it has to be controlled.

Like the Uchiha. The Namikaze also possess special chakra but it is an opposite of Uchiha cursed chakra. Our chakra is soothing and has the ability to tame the wildest beasts. That is why Namikaze are good healers and seal masters. Uchiha chakra is even more sinister than the Kyuubi's but it is not present in every Uchiha.

A combination of the Namikaze and Uchiha chakra can contain Kyuubi's chakra for years. It will help Naruto in the conversation of the demon's chakra and keep him and his mind safe.

Even at the young age of seven, I can see Itachi's potential and his cursed chakra. This is what Naruto needs so he can control Kyuubi's influence. He has shown many signs that he would develop his Sharingan early. He has shown his ability to utilize his chakra efficiently.

Naruto needs him.

I discussed this possibility with Fugaku and he has agreed that it would be best for both our clans to merge. The Namikaze influence will help curb the danger of insanity that flows within the Uchiha because of their cursed chakra.

However, this marriage would be anything but simple. I could have easily avoided forcing my son and the young Uchiha boy into a relationship but something came to my attention.

Kyuubi's chakra would need constant suppression as Naruto's body slowly absorbs it. That is only possible though the Zenrei Hyoushi Fuuin (Whole-soul binding seal).

The seal is a KinJutsu that binds two souls together. In ancient times, it was used on couples who were about to wed. This seal initially had the purpose of preventing infidelity and ensuring that the couple stayed together throughout their life, supporting each other and sharing their chakra.

However, it became apparent that once administered… this seal could not be removed.. It did not allow people to dissolve their marriage and take on someone else as their spouse. Which was why the seal was classified as forbidden as many used it to force their partners into marriage.

This seal should be performed on Naruto and Itachi a day before the wedding is set. I know that there is a possibility that the two of them may not prefer each other as partners, however, for the sake of Konoha; their sacrifice too has to be made.

I apologize to my son for these constant troubles he must face for our village and I hope that by now he is wise enough to understand my motivation. The seal will enable a constant balance of both Uchiha and Namikaze chakra within Naruto and Itachi as well and that will keep Kyuubi's chakra at bay.

The seal is empowered by both spiritual and physical intimacy between the couples. I know that I cannot demand this of them as soon as they are married so I have given them a year to adjust and cultivate their relationship as spouses. They will be married when Naruto is eighteen and Itachi is twenty-five and they can attain physical intimacy before Naruto is nineteen when the seal would need to be at its strongest.

As the Hokage, you are empowered to enforce this contract even if there is any objection, both from the couple themselves as well as the villagers and the council. You are obligated to carry out this contract without fail as it falls under your duty.

You cannot overrule this contract under any circumstances.

Age dominance is necessary when it comes to this seal. One spouse should be at least a year older. Asking Uchiha Sasuke, even though he is a few months older than Naruto, to follow this contract through is not possible.

If Uchiha Itachi is dead or missing in action and cannot be found before Naruto's nineteenth birthday… you have full authority to… execute my child. Kill him before Kyuubi's chakra overwhelms him.

Tell Naruto that I love him.


Namikaze Minato,

Yondaime Hokage of Konoha.

"Execute Naruto… Minato… the pain you must feel while writing that… I cannot imagine." Tsunade shook her head with a sigh and took the folder out. She would first have to explain to Naruto of Itachi's predicament before she explained to him about the contract.

Tsunade tiredly walked out of the room and called a chunin to summon Naruto to her office.

It was not long before Naruto appeared soundlessly before her. Dressed in his ANBU garb, he was unmasked, his red mask hanging by a string on his belt. "Yo, Tsunade no baa-chan. What can I do for you?" he questioned charmingly, his blue eyes twinkling at her.

Tsunade sighed and looked into his eyes, "Sit down please, Naruto."

Naruto raised a golden brow at her serious, insecure tone and sat down with poise that was characteristic of ANBU.

She passed a file with his name on it to him and Naruto scowled in caution. Such situations usually turned to disaster. He hesitated for a moment before opening the file and reading its contents.

Tsunade watched him carefully. Noting with growing dismay as the easy-going expression on his face slowly disappeared, leaving behind nothing. The bright sparkle of his eyes gave way to dangerous iciness. His posture became tense.

He placed the file on the table, only holding on to the letter that his father wrote to the current Hokage and read it once again. Tsunade did not know what to do or say. He looked so inapproachable. His expression gave nothing away.

"Sou-ka…" He whispered dangerously. "I am to wed a criminal if I wish to live, is that it, Tsunade?"


He snorted. "Aniki will kill me first."

Tsunade frowned. She had not considered Sasuke into the equation before. "Naruto… there are things that you do not know about Itachi…"

The blonde raised a brow. His expression was still closed and dangerous but that did not deter Tsunade. "I do not know much about the case, Naruto but there were many shady dealings going on during the time of the Uchiha massacre."

She shook her head and sighed, "Someone leaked out the fact that the Uchiha's coveted bloodline came from a demon."

Naruto's eyes narrowed, "Demon, Tsunade?"

She nodded, "I don't know much about it. At one point in history, Hyuuga clan divided into Uchiha and Hyuuga. The Sharingan is a perversion of Byakugan… created by demon blood. The Uchiha were very keen on keeping this fact a secret, they also wanted to hide the fact that the demon that caused the creation of their line could be resurrected and that it was much more sinister and powerful than the Kyuubi."

Naruto drew a sharp breath. Being the vessel of the youma, Naruto was keenly aware of Kyuubi's strength and it was nothing to scoff at. He knew first hand how much power the demon could produce and had been tempted by it a couple of times. A demon more powerful than the Kyuubi would be a demon classed above the tailed-beasts.

"The demon is sealed by some ancient seal and it exists within the Uchiha complex. We know that it cannot be broken. No one can crack that seal but there were many who believed that the Uchiha might use that power. Many believed that the Uchiha were the only ones that could release that seal. These were jealous people Naruto; they believed that the power and talent that was synonymous with the name Uchiha was of demonic origin." She shook her head in slight dismay, "That may or may not be true but the fact remains that people were scared and they did not want another incident similar to the Kyuubi attack to occur."

"Aa." He nodded, "That would have been a terrifying prospect, wouldn't it?" he whispered icily. The story brought forth many bad memories. Memories of how people tired to save themselves from the demon by attacking and slandering him.

Tsunade was quick to recognize the tone and nodded in agreement. "Someone leaked this information out, someone who was either jealous or scared. The council and many clan elders got the wind of it and they mobilized an assassination squad from the ANBU division ROOT."

Naruto slammed his palms on her table, "He is innocent!"

"That he is." Tsunade nodded. "Just a week before, Sandaime had assigned a new mission to Itachi. It was to infiltrate Akatsuki and assassinate each member whenever he got the chance. It was a difficult job but Itachi is one of our best. During the night of the massacre, Itachi was with Sandaime, discussing the mission. He was scheduled to leave in the morning."

"How damn convenient." Naruto murmured with heavy sarcasm, leaning back. He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, pulling the silky strands back against his head painfully… trying to regain his composure.

"At that moment, still recovering from Kyuubi's attack, the strained ties with Hidden Cloud and the massacre itself… it would have been disastrous for Sandaime to target the very foundations of the village's political system and his influence was not as strong as it used to be. A political scandal of such magnitude would destroy the village. His position was very fragile. His moral sensibilities could not condone such a heartless crime but there was no way he could carry out investigations against strong clan leaders who had the daimyo's support and the council's support too."

Naruto scowled. He recognized the sheer political genius that was behind the massacre. People who planned this would have been well aware of the situation.

"Itachi capitalized on this, didn't he?" Naruto questioned softly.

Tsunade nodded, "Itachi was not safe, Naruto. His life was in peril. He was too strong for those people to ignore. They would have been in no hurry to kill Sasuke but Itachi is a force to be reckoned with. It would have been very dangerous to let him live." She took a deep breath, "Now, Sandaime could have easily told Sasuke the truth…"

"However, Sasuke would start hating the village." Naruto completed the statement for her, "Sasuke would have hated the village and would have sought vengeance." The blonde man shook his head, "One does not make an enemy out of Sasuke, it is not good for your health. He would have somehow gained power and torn Konoha apart."

Tsunade nodded, "We needed to protect Sasuke too and we could only do that if he was in the village and willing to trust us with his protection. Itachi had returned to the Uchiha estate that night to investigate the crime scene and that was when Sasuke came upon him. Itachi used that chance to make it seem as though he had committed the crime, which, if one would think logically, is impossible." She smiled blandly, "Itachi is not that powerful to massacre and entire clan of strong Shinobi single-handedly in one night without letting a single person to escape."

Naruto nodded as though he already knew that fact. Tsunade sighed and leaned back, "Now, the council is in a weaker position. Most clan leaders are old and planning to let their heirs take over. I doubt people like Hinata, Kiba, Chouji, Shikamaru would protest to a full-scale investigation authorized by me. Moreover, the council is very old and very few people trust them. They are in a very weak position. This is the perfect time to bring Itachi back in."

"I understand." Naruto said softly, "I dread to think how this will affect him."

Tsunade sighed, "Naruto, think about yourself for once."

The iciness in Naruto's eyes disappeared, leaving behind despair and uncertainty, "You know that there is little I can do." He shook his head, "I have known something is off with Kyuubi for some time now. I have not gone into Kyuubi-rage for months, I can use his chakra well but he, himself, does not influence me much." He looked into her eyes, "Kyuubi is getting weaker."

"At first I attributed it to the fact that maybe, he just got tired and weak from sitting inside his cage with very little freedom of movement. He is a living being after all. I know that no being… even a demon would be able to tolerate constant isolation and lack of much body movement." Naruto sighed and leaned back, looking nothing like the graceful ANBU captain that he was.

"I hate to force you into doing this." Tsunade said with genuine concern in her eyes.

Naruto shrugged, looking rather calm for someone whose life had been turned upside down.

"Naruto are you even interested in men?" Tsunade asked.

"Well…" He looked away from her, "I don't know. We are the ANBU; I have little time to socialize Tsunade." He shrugged, "I have had a few casual relationships here and there… but nothing that would indicate a solid preference towards a particular sex."

Tsunade scowled at the answer before narrowing her eyes on the young man before her. "Naruto, I do not know how I can make this better for you, but I know one thing… you will try to make the relationship work. I know you; you will try to make it work for both your sakes."

Naruto nodded in agreement. If he had to spend his life with Itachi, it would not do well to try stubbornly holding onto the resentment he felt towards Itachi.

It would not be easy, but over the years, Naruto had learned that sometimes, it was best just to compromise.


"Naruto-san!" a soft, cultured tone tore through his thoughts and he turned with a slight smile. There, stood his former teammate, Hyuuga Hanabi.

For some odd reason, he interacted Hanabi much better than any other female comrade of his, including Sakura. They had mutual respect for each other yet their relationship was oddly formal. It was the heir to one powerful clan interacting with the head of another powerful clan.

"Hello, Hanabi-san. How have you been lately?" Naruto questioned softly as they continued walking.

Hanabi smiled slightly, looking up to him. Naruto wasn't all that tall or muscular like most of his male comrades, but he was an imposing figure. Slender and elfin, he was like the deceptive katana that seemed fragile but was deadly.

He had her respect long before he became such a prominent ANBU captain. "I have been well, Naruto-san. However, that is not I wished to speak about." She smiled at his curious expression, "Otou-sama has requested your presence this evening, if you are free of course. He mentioned that it would be a long conversation so, I would recommend that you come a few hours before dinner so the both of you can have some privacy."

"Of course." Naruto nodded, "I have an important mission tomorrow but that I enough time to spare today. Please inform him that I shall be present at around 4 pm. Will that be alright?"

Hanabi nodded, seemingly pleased. "Yes, arigato. I will inform him. Thank your for you time, Naruto-san. Have a nice day."

"Not a problem, Hanabi-san. Good day." Naruto answered.

When she was out of sight, Naruto's eyes clouded. He needed to vent. He just couldn't visit Haishi-sama with all these emotions swirling within him. It would take the Hyuuga an instant to recognize his distress and even less than an instant to force him to blurt everything.

His fingers formed a seal and his vanished without even a stir in the wind.

An hour later, Sasuke found Naruto viciously punching and kicking the training post. Naruto was a seasoned ninja who would know how to avoid injuries while training in TaiJutsu but it was obvious that the motive was not to train, but to vent.

The Uchiha narrowed his eyes as he spotted blood on the damaged post and frowned at the lack of gloves on Naruto's hands.

Knowing of Naruto's speed and strength, Sasuke moved before the blonde would become aware of his presence. Within a split second he had his arms wrapped around Naruto like a vice, pinning the shorter boy's arms to his side, effectively trapping him. Naruto didn't struggle. He just sagged against his frame, his head falling back to rest against the Uchiha's chest. "Aniki…"

Sasuke scowled before loosening his arms and turning Naruto around. He observed those bleeding knuckles with a very displeased look. "Explain."

The command was curt and emotionless but Naruto sensed Sasuke's irritation and looked up into those obsidian eyes he had come to trust and respect. Sasuke deserved the truth. "Somewhere private."

Sasuke nodded in understanding before grasping Naruto's elbow and disappearing from the training grounds.

A moment later, they found themselves in Sasuke's home. Naruto collapsed tiredly onto a couch and watched distractedly as Sasuke fetched a pair of tweezers. The Uchiha then started the painstaking task of methodically removing the thick splinters of wood from Naruto's slender fingers.

Because Sasuke was so concentrated on his task, he did not notice Naruto's nervousness. "I… I got some shocking news today."

"So I guessed." Sasuke responded shortly.

Naruto swallowed, "I…" he licked his lips, trying to figure out a way to tell Sasuke the truth.

This time Sasuke did notice Naruto's uncharacteristic uncertainty. He let go of those injured hands and narrowed his eyes on the blonde. "Spit it out dobe."

When Naruto did not respond to his jibe, Sasuke understood that the matter was very serious. "Naruto, is something the matter?" The last time Sasuke had seen Naruto so emotionally distraught was the day Tsunade had informed him about his heritage. It had taken considerable effort on Sasuke's part to soothe Naruto's hurt and feelings of hate and betrayal towards his own father.

At that moment, there was no one else Sasuke despised more that the respected Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure, Namikaze Minato.

"Sasuke…" Naruto whispered and looked at the Uchiha with pained blue eyes, "Itachi didn't do it."

That statement hit him with the force of a sledgehammer.

He understood what Naruto meant immediately. Naruto would never lie to him about such matters. In fact, most of the time, the ANBU captain was brutally honest with him.

Naruto went on to explain the entire conversation with Tsunade. Amidst the haze of anger and confusion, he recognized Naruto's loyalty and trust in him. Naruto was giving him classified information. He doubted that Tsunade had given Naruto the permission to tell him the truth.

Naruto left nothing out and for that Sasuke was grateful. The sheer political genius behind such a maneuver impressed him somewhat. However, the sacrifice Itachi made to ensure his safety and well-being shocked and enraged him.

All these years, Itachi had let them purposefully suffer. It would have been so much easier if that bastard had just told him the truth. Sasuke was proficient in keeping secrets… even if it was for the people of this useless village.

Unbidden, a snarl came to his lips.

This village.


Immediately; he started to recall why he so despised Konoha so much.


His Naruto had suffered here. All his life, without respite, continued ignorance, constant hate and abuse.

Now Itachi.

"What is so special about this damn village?" He hissed, startling Naruto.

Wise blue eyes smiled at him, "It is our home."

It was a simple answer, a constant answer. It was Naruto's only explanation, his only defense for the devotion he carried in his heart for this disgusting place.

"A home that is bent on destroying our lives." Sasuke sneered and watched as Naruto's eyes darkened in pain.

Those impossibly blue eyes looked at him imploringly, "This is exactly what Itachi hoped to prevent. He did not want you to hate this village, not because of the mistakes of a few jealous people."

"Mistake?" Sasuke drawled dangerously, "Mistake, otouto? My entire family was killed because of that mistake. My brother left to work on a dangerous mission with knowledge that I, his younger brother, who had loved and admired him, now despised him."

Naruto swallowed and berated himself for being so callous. The first time Naruto had called Sasuke aniki, it was to ease the loneliness and desperation he could see building in those dangerous black eyes. That loneliness was the cause of Sasuke anger, vengeance and betrayal.

The relationship between them had changed significantly at that moment because it was then that Naruto had made Sasuke his family. It was then that Naruto had given Sasuke importance over everyone else, including Iruka, Tsunade or Kakashi.

Sasuke's use of the brotherly endearment told him that this was not the time to defend Konoha against the Uchiha's righteous anger.

"Will you forgive him?" Naruto questioned softly.

"I already have a brother." Sasuke stated with a nonchalant shrug, "I do not want another." He peered into Naruto's eyes, "He stopped being my brother a long time ago."


"Whatever happened to aniki?" Sasuke questioned with a wry smirk. He leaned forward, gently brushing soft, golden strands of hair off Naruto's forehead. He observed the blonde for a long moment, saying nothing but jut watching with an unreadable look in his eyes.

It seems like hours before Sasuke spoke again, his voice uncharacteristically gentle, "I used to call him nii-san, just like you call me aniki. The same tone, the same emotions lighting my voice. I used to look at him with the same hopeful eyes that you look at me with. The same look of adoration and respect."

Naruto looked at him in concern but Sasuke continued speaking, "He was the person I trusted the most. I trusted him to care for me even if he did not show it. I knew I could trust him more than I could trust my own father. That bond, Naruto, was so special, so precious to me that his betrayal drove me to the brink of insanity."

Sasuke's eyes then focused on him and Naruto felt his eyes widen at the pleasure in those usually blank orbs. "But then you called me aniki." The Uchiha took Naruto's injured hand and bandaged it carefully. "It is a wonder how such a simple word can invoke so many intense feelings. The moment you called me aniki… in that sweet, tentative voice, I felt more powerful than I could ever imagine."

Naruto's eyes widened in confusion and Sasuke chuckled, "There are two kinds of responsibilities, otouto. There are responsibilities that are a burden… like my responsibility towards my clan, my vengeance. Then there is the responsibility that gives you pleasure and satisfaction, like my responsibility as your onii-san… to keep you safe and happy."

"You gave me my peace."

"De… demo… I thought…" Naruto did not know what to say. He did not understand how much that title meant to him and to hear Sasuke uncharacteristically reveal to him such thoughts was a bit surprising.

"Try to understand Naruto." Sasuke said softly, "It is my selfish pleasure to be your big brother but it is your sincere affection that drives me to cherish this responsibility. My affection towards Itachi was tainted with jealousy and an odd feeling of hate. In our relationship, I see what Itachi and I should have had but we did not. To revive that relationship will only do more harm than good."

Naruto sighed, "That does not mean that you cannot forgive him. He did what he thought was right. I mean… wouldn't you do the same thing, aniki? If you were in his shoes and you couldn't protect me, wouldn't you make sure that I had some level of protection?"

Sasuke observed Naruto for a few moments, making the slender blonde squirm. "Naruto," The Uzumaki winced, Sasuke knew something was up. "Is there something else you need to tell me?"

Naruto sighed, retrieved a parchment from his jacket, and silently handed it to Sasuke.

The Uchiha raised a questioning brow before unfolding the parchment and reading its contents. Naruto kept his head down, his fingers fidgeting nervously. He dreaded what Sasuke's reaction will be. So far, he had taken everything exceptionally well but Naruto was uncertain. He had this freaky ability to push thoughts he was unable to cope with to the back of his mind for later scrutiny.

The Uchiha's face remained carefully blank as he finished reading the parchment and Naruto found himself groaning inwardly. He just remembered that he would now have to deal with two Uchihas in his life instead of one.

"A betrothal contract." Sasuke stated blandly, "Involving Uchiha Itachi."

Naruto nodded reluctantly, his head still bent. "There seems to be no way out of this." Sasuke stated with a tired sigh.

"Not unless I am suicidal, which I am not, I like my life as it is now, thank you very much." Naruto grumbled sarcastically.

Sasuke smirked, "That is until your wedding with Itachi. I would love to see how much you like life with that walking zombie as your husband."

Naruto glared, "You just had to point that out, didn't you teme! What did I do to deserve this?"

Sasuke was about to taunt further when he saw the distress clearly showing in Naruto's gem-like eyes. He stood gracefully and settled himself beside Naruto, one arm casually draped over his shoulder. He turned his head a little and nuzzled Naruto's temple.

The blonde took a shuddering breath and Sasuke's arm tightened around his shoulder. Naruto quickly turned, his face buried in Sasuke's shoulder as he shivered, his grip on the Uchiha's shirt unrelenting. Sasuke frowned in concern, understanding how helpless and lost Naruto felt.

He tightened his grip even more when he felt a hitch in Naruto's breath, "Shhh, Naruto…" He murmured in his ear, "We will make this work. Come on Naru, we just have to make the best of it. And Itachi…" Sasuke trailed off. He had nothing positive to say about Itachi except that he was skilled and powerful.

"And Itachi is a freak who likes to paint his nails, wears ridiculous clothes that hinder movement and scares the hell out of me." Naruto murmured tremulously.

"Shhh…" Sasuke whispered, effectively recognizing the tremor of panic in Naruto's voice, "Get some rest, dobe." He commanded quietly, running his fingers through silk like golden hair.

"I can't." Naruto murmured reluctantly, "I have a meeting with Hyuuga-sama at 4."

"There is still a lot of time, Naruto." Sasuke stated, "I will wake you on time for your meeting."

Naruto nodded in agreement. The moment his eyes closed and breathing settled; Sasuke's visage turned cold and ruthless.

'Tsunade… Itachi, you have a lot of explaining to do.'