A lot of separate things in this chapter, because I'm skipping the boring details.

Look out for the Hellraiser quote ;)

Nice Eyes

As he tried to activate the rare second form of the Sharingan, Sasuke felt a sudden scalding heat gather in his eyes from all over his body, a familiar sensation.

Each of the black commas in his eyes elongated into thin arcs, the two tips of which extended past either side of the pupil and joined each other on the opposite side, encircling the pupil in an ellipse that spanned the whole width of the iris. There were thus three intersecting ellipses encircling each pupil, angled evenly from each other to form the anachronistic model of the atom with three electron orbits, with the pupil forming the nucleus, against the red background of the iris. The area from the outer edge of all the orbits to the edge of the iris was black.

"Nice eyes." Pein07 whistled. "Wonder what it does …"

The moment his Mangekyo Sharingan had taken shape, Sasuke let loose the first technique he thought of, which had been imprinted into his instincts thanks to Itachi.

"Amaterasu …"

Even as the first vowel of the word was spoken, Pein07 slapped an open palm onto the ground.

To an outside observer, it would appear as if Pein07's body had suddenly been engulfed by a rapidly flickering cloud of smoke, blacker in colour than any black one had seen. Upon closer observation, one realize that the "smoke" took the exact form of flames. It was like filming a bright white fire and looking at the negatives.

The black flames spread almost to the edge of the clearing that had been caused by the snake crashing Pein07 to the ground, when Sasuke closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The flames continued to burn, chewing through rock and soil, but they stopped spreading.

"What did I tell you about conserving your strength ?"

Sasuke looked up to see Pein07 sitting atop a gigantic Pterosaur with a wingspan three men long hovering far above the level of the treetops, out of reach of the pool of black flames.

Sasuke gave a tired but triumphant grin as he felt Sasuke1 expire as well and all the divided Chakra energy flooded back into him. "You are right where I want you."

He held up his sword high and pointed it towards the sky.

From his flying mount, with his Rinnegan, Pein07 saw a stream of potent chakra energy shoot up from Sasuke's sword all the way up into the clouds. A reverse stream of the blue haze poured down from the clouds down onto the boy, and the exchange continued, until the air was supercharged with lightning elemental chakra.

The clouds began to churn and swirl around like a view of a raging hurricane from space. And then the first few arcs of lightning and thunder in the day, which grew more frequent, as if the spirits themselves had been roused from their hiding places in the clouds to do battle.

"Fascinating." Pein07 steered his mount to a side to avoid a bolt of lightning. "Augmenting your elemental chakra with that from the greatest source of its natural counterpart."

He nodded to himself, genuinely impressed. This boy would make an interesting replacement for Itachi. He continued to dodge the lightning and observe Sasuke, confident in his ability to see and avoid anything that the latter would throw at him next.

He was not prepared.

It was a surreal sight. The white hot flashes of lightning suddenly turned pitch black in colour, like sudden tears in the fabic of space.

And those were precisely what they were, gigantic rips in the material of reality that defied the latter's common laws.

Even as the Rinnegan allowed Pein07 to see them clearly and understand them for what they were, there was no time for him to perform a counter.

The black lightning overcame all his attempts at dodging them and struck his mount in a wing, igniting black flames which spread furiously over the rest of the pterasaur's body. The latter roared in agony and its position in the air became less and less steady.

Frantically, Pein07 channeled his own chakra over the black fire to try and suppress it. While he was doing so, another bolt of black lightning struck him in the back, and he felt the incapacitating pain of flames eating through his own flesh.

"Impossible, how can a mere boy possess such power …" Pein07 shook his head in disbelief, "I couldn't tell from looking at him …"

As the otherworldly fire completely, and truly consumed his body, Pein07's expression changed from panic to one of eerie calm and satisfaction ."Ahhh … the pain … the sweet suffering …"

Sasuke watched as the mass of black flames suspended in the air gradually broke down and dissolved into nothingness, then fell to his knees, sighed and screamed as the relaxing of his concentration brought the pain in his eyes back in full force, which still lingered for a while after he shut off the Mangekyo Sharingan.

"Thanks for the assist, Storm." Sasuke called out hoarsely.

"I felt the shift in the winds, and did what I could to make it easier for you. " Ororo replied as she stepped out from within the forest. "If your twin weren't distracting those ... birds ... whatever they were, I might not have arrived in time anyway." She looked around at aftermath of the battle."So I assume it's over ?"

Sasuke looked stared ahead at the black flames still burning on the ground, tried to use his chakra control to put it out, then gave up, and nodded.

"Then let's go back, Kitty is worried about you." Ororo helped Sasuke to his feet. "Oh my God, your eyes … they're bleeding !"

"I'll be fine." Sasuke it off, took a step forward, and almost fell forward had Ororo not caught him by the chest.

"You need to rest."

"Yes, I do." Sasuke smiled and let the darkness take over.

Xxx

Sitting cross legged atop a rock on a sea coast far away, a figure in a black cloak opened his eyes to reveal concentric grey bands of various shades around each pupil.

For a while he stood and stared out into the sea.

And then he heard footsteps from behind him.

"Ah, you survived. Your dimension-jumping skills have gotten better."

"Almost didn't make it." Uchiha Madara recounted. "The awakening of the Phoenix was totally unexpected. Now that I think of it, right before that, she got paralyzed by something, and her energies were in a state of turmoil. Did you … ?" He looked suspiciously at the grey eyed figure.

The latter closed his eyes. "It was only supposed to paralyze her." And then opened them again. "The phoenix is an entity like nothing we have seen. My chakra manipulation may not work on her the same way it does to my other victims."

"Really ?" Madara continued to stare at Pein questioningly for a while. "Was that all it was, Pein ?"

Now Pein returned the stare. "That aside, there were other unexpected turns of events that perhaps you can better explain."

"Such as ?"

"Such as how Uchiha Sasuke escaped." Pein's eyes narrowed. "And I could tell when I looked into his eyes, he knew what we were up to."

"The boy is resourceful for his age." Madara chuckled and gave a gentle wave with one hand. "Let me guess, he destroyed your latest body ?"

"No matter. I'll have it replaced soon enough." Now Pein's expression gave off a subtle hint of amusement. "Perhaps I'll use a female this time."

"Oh ? That would be a first !" Madara laughed.

"What will you do now ? We have not captured the Phoenix, and the boy does not look like he would join us anytime soon."

"We'll make do without her. As to Sasuke, he'll come to us, sooner or later."

"Indeed …"

xxx

Days later …

"Damn you Charles !" Colonel Nick Fury swore and threw up his arms in frustration.

The eyepatch wearing, middle aged commander of Shield stood facing a bare section of wall in the dark deserted control room.

There were some lines of words scratched into this area of the wall, like some medium sized poster that was engraved into the concrete rather than painted on paper.

And the first line read, "Sorry, bub, we got here first." At the end of the sentence was a big smiley that was made up of a series of familiar claw marks.

Fuming, he shifted his gaze to the line below. "Relax, my friend, have some Vodka !" At the end of this sentence was a gigantic exclamation mark that appeared to have been formed by hammering the wall with something heavy, metallic, and roughly the size of large human fist. Below, where the wall folded into the floor, was a glass bottle of the named beverage.

Fury dashed forward, grabbed the bottle, and was about to smash it against the wall when he heard somebody call to him from behind him.

"Uh, Sir …"

Stiffly, slowly lowering the bottle, Fury rotated to face his subordinate, who wore the same blue form fitting uniform as he did, complete with the sleek black minimalist utility belts.

The younger shield member jerked his head in mild confusion at the sight of the strange glass bottle held in his commander's hand. "Something wrong, Sir ?"

Fury forced a smile on his dark skinned face. "Nothing, I should have known, the good professor wouldn't alert me to the existence of this facility without … is there nothing we can find, Max ?"

Max shook his head gently. "If you are referring to research, Sir, there is nothing. All the samples were disposed of, the equipment sabotaged, the data erased, quite thoroughly, as if … there is no place in this facility that the perpetrators couldn't reach."

"I have a good idea who they are." Fury nodded, and then stared curiously into Max's eyes. "You seem to imply that there was something left behind."

"Yes Sir," Max grinned in an attempt to lighten the mood. "Security videos. We are examining them in the main hall right this moment."

"Ah, of course." Fury returned the grin. "After leaving me a signed message, why bother hiding the tapes, hm ?" he leaned forward and patted Max on the back. "Tell the rest, 'Good Job, and have some vodka !'" he handed Max the bottle of strong alcohol and proceeded to exit the control room.

Max turned the bottle over in his hand and stared at its fading labels in bewilderment. Then he shrugged, took a smalls sip of the Vodka, and turned to follow his commander out through the door.

xxx

"Yeah, it's them." Fury noted as he bent over the uniformed young woman working the labtop and peered closer at the blurry footage showing two buff looking men smashing a roomful of screens, ripping cables, and occasionally grinning and showing a finger to the camera. "Cocky fellas. Any other ones ?"

"Plenty, Sir." The female Shield technician replied and tapped away at a few keys. "It's all encrypted so that only codes provided by government agents can unlock them." She shook her head and smiled in defeat, "wonder where they got a hold of those."

My fault really, Fury thought, I owe James my life, and did not keep up my guard against him even though he's a danger to an organization such as mine. The Shield commander decided to keep this detail a secret. "Well, If you've had the kind of field experience Wolverine has had and are virtually indestructible like he is, there's really nowhere you can't go." Fury recounted with a mix of admiration and incredulity, his attention focused on the short, stocky and thick haired figure in each recorded scene.

And then something else caught his eye. "Wait, stop right there. A few frames back" Fury waited for the technician to flip back to the unusual scene he had just glimpsed. "Ah, this … "

"It's one of the holding cells Sir." The technician explained, and pointed to the haggard figure of a man lyng outside the cell. "That's one of the weapon X soldiers," she then shifted her finger to the rugged looking man with a feral countenance holding on to the soldier's arm. "That's the man whom we know as the first Weapon X." She then moved on to the columns of green light that separated the interior of the cell from the corridor where Wolverine had dragged the soldier into view. "And there … Oh my God …"

Through the laser barrier, both Fury and the technician saw the figure of a young boy in his mid teens, dressed in an attire that reminded the both of them of their Aikido instructors.

The boy had long drooping spiky black hair, but the most striking feature were his eyes, which glowed a bright crimson. What was visible from the fuzzy frozen image gave the vague hint of something more than just simple round black pupils.

The technician found herself mesmerized by the boy's luminous red orbs, unable to look away or find the key to flip to the next few frames.

She was jolted awake by a heavy tap on her shoulder.

"I want you guys to look up any information regarding this boy, or whatever he is." Fury rubbed his chin, and then added to himself. "On second thought, we'd probably need to do a little active investigation. I have a feeling this person will not be found on any of our files."

"Right away Sir !" The technician answered.

Fury took one last look at the boy's youthful ( strangely androgynous) yet disturbingly emotionless face before turning around to attend to the other teams he had brought with him.

"Interesting eyes."

Xxx

Sasuke sat at the top of the roof, enjoying the view of the sunset, and thinking back to the events of the past few days.

His encounter with the X-Men had changed him, though he had not admitted how this was possible.

His battle with the grey eyed Akatsuki member was a surprise even to himself, not just because he had emerged victorious against an opponent with Doujutsu that rivaled his own in power. His motivation for fighting was something that he had never felt since that time when he protected Naruto from Haku's ice needles years ago. This was something that he had not admitted as well. Nevertheless, he felt strangely content that he had acted the way he did, as if it had made up for some deep regrets he had been harbouring.

"Don't look directly at the sun too long, you don't want to lose those precious eyes of yours don't you ?"

Sasuke sat upright with a start. "Kitty ? How did you … never mind."

Chuckling, the young brunette turned tangible and sat next to Sasuke, who turned to face her. "What are you doing here ?"

"Ah well, same as you I think." the girl paused to catch the view of the sun disappearing down the horizon. "You know, Kurt said that since everything is quiet now, maybe you would find time to have a little sparring session with him."

"Maybe …" Sasuke rubbed his chin with a finger.

A moment of silence.

"Hey … um" Kitty hesitated," … what are you really ? I mean … the Professor thinks you are … special, and Ororo n Logan, they talk like you've just wiped the floor with Magneto's butt …"

"Who's Magneto ?"

"He's … well … you'll know him soon. Crazy old man. He and the professor used to be friends and all." Kitty went back to the main topic, " Anyway, I've never seen anyone like you, Sasuke."

"Really …"

Kitty tried to organize her thoughts, not sure how to continue. "I mean, first there's those eyes. Rogue got her eyes when she absorbed her boyfriend into her, so she said. They don't do much, but yours, they are unique." Kitty's voice softened into a dreamy whisper. " … beautiful …"

Sasuke thought back to the time when he showed Kitty his Sharingan. They had stared into each other's eyes for quite a moment. He wasn't using any illusions or any of his usual eye techniques, yet he could tell it had an effect on her, though he had not been quite sure what.

"So are yours." He replied absently.

"Huh ?"

Again, they looked silently at each other. Sasuke got the weird impression that her face was slowly getting closer and closer to his.

And then they heard a loud "bampf" accompanied by the strong smell of fire and brimstone.

"Ah, zere you are !"

They looked blankly from one to the other, and then broke out together in laughter.

Laughter from the seas …

White clouds drifting, glorious sun shining, on my carefree melodies.

Free am I, my heart has only, laughter of the present,

Feeling of joy, intimate happiness, now my heart is opened.

Sunset as blood, intoxicated red sun, I hold on to the marvels,

Drifting with the dust and waves, remember only the laughter of the present.

Passionate chorus, declare with proud abandon, see past the mysteries of the world,

Come and go as wished, no limits to freedom, on me noone has a hold.

Face with a smile, the torrents, who can tell how things shall unfold ?

Drift with the dust and waves, remember only the laughter of the present,

Feeling of joy, intimate happiness, now my heart is opened !

- Swordsman 2 (1992) theme

End of 1st arc

Hope you enjoyed the story ;) and thanks for all your comments

Originally, I had Sasuke1 dissolve himself in the reception hall of the X-mansion. That was dumb I know XD

Sorry I didn't use any nickname for Sasuke.

It'll appear when he encounters other factions like the Brotherhood, Shield, the Ultimates etc ( that's if I do continue the story at all ... ).

Till then, have a good day/night !

- Star