I know I know, I suck big time for taking so long with this update. I have all the big stuff figured out, it's just the little things and the links that get me.

By the way, if I get a character wrong or something, politely let me know and I'll try to fix it. I'm trying to stay close to character as possible, but sometimes I may put in a tweak or two. That's what fanfics all about right!

Chapter 6: First Death

So, i've come up with three different reasons why i'm waking up with such a massive headache. You know, the I-can't-even-open-my-eyes-it-hurts-so-much kind? Yeah. Number one: I fell asleep to my parents' incessant arguing again. Two: Blood sugar is extra low from lack of nutrition. Three: I've hit my head at school, thus putting me into a coma, and this whole kidnapping thing has been a bad dream. A really bad dream.

It really felt like someone punched me in the head. I felt myself grip what appeared to be sheets, which indicated some kind of bed lay beneath me. 'There better be white curtains and red walls when I open my eyes.' I wished desperately that the sheets were indeed my own from my bedroom. Heck, i'd settle for a hospital bed if it meant not waking up a prisoner in some crazy backwards world.

Okay, steady breath.

Slowly, my heavy eyelids lifted to reveal a semi-dark room with sandy brown walls and a high-vaulted ceiling. Definitely not my room, or any normal hospital room. Great.

I started to move my legs while my arms shakily propped me up and even though my head still spun, I pushed through and managed into a sitting position. That's when a slightly familiar voice came from my right, and I jumped.

"No need to be alarmed. It's just me, your good friend, Kabuto." Into the light stepped the silver-haired man I had seen standing beside and helping that creepy master guy when we were first brought here. That's right, i'm probably in one of their rooms and that's why I wasn't able to recognize anything.

I glared at him now. "What happened to me?"

He chuckled and handed me a porcelain cup with some kind of dark liquid in it. I held it at arms length, scrunching up my face at the odd smell, letting him know I was deeply suspicious.

"It's not poison, if that's what you're thinking." He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his pointed nose. "It's merely a medicine mixture to combat the migraine from the bonding process. Avoid smelling it if you can."

I gazed at the cup in thought. 'I suppose if they had wanted to kill me, they would've done it already. Here it goes.'

The instant the drink hit the back of my tongue, I nearly choked, because oh did it taste something awful! "Medicine huh?" I coughed out. Tasted more like death.

He eyed me curiously. "You're no where near from around here."

"Well, if I knew where here was, then I could tell you." I pointed out. My brain still felt like it was railing against my skull, and I inwardly urged the medicine to start working for the sake of my sanity. The man named Kabuto sighed.

"It surely can't be your lack of manners that intrigues Sasuke-sama so."

My head snapped up at this. "I don't want to intrigue anyone. I just want to go home." I silently wondered how long I could stay sane in this place. I missed my parents terribly and they're probably sick with worry looking for me.

"That is no longer an option for you. Best get use to this place quick, because now you belong to the Master." Kabuto reprimanded. I jerked my head away, feeling anger rush through me at his words, until I remembered something.

"You mentioned a bonding process. What exactly does that mean?" I watched impatiently while he removed his glasses, rubbed a cloth over the lenses, and glided them back onto his now smirking face.

"The bonding process is not uncommon here. Upon being inducted into our services, a slave must go through this in order to prevent them from escaping the compound. There is a set perimeter to which a slave is entitled to stay in; usually the outer layers of the compound walls serve as that barrier."

I shifted uncomfortably on the bed but made no move to interrupt.

"The one who conducts the process performs a very complex jutsu that, in plain terms, puts a small portion of themselves into the victim. This means that Sasuke-sama can, in simple terms, sense you on a psychic level. His presence inside of you will become very strong whenever he needs you, and he'll always know where you are. That's why escaping here is impossible."

His words sounded foreign to me, like right out of a science fiction book. So now he can pretty much tell me what to do through... what... telepathy? It sounded ludicrous. Stuff like that didn't exist, but I wasn't about to argue with the guy. Although, Kabuto has been relatively friendly, I sensed a danger in him, some kind of secret that gave him an unspoken power. I had to be extra careful with this one.

"I should also mention," he continued, "that if a slave were to somehow leave the grounds, the real purpose of the bond will activate. I'm sure I won't need to go into detail when I say you'd be dead within several minutes. Unless, of course, you managed to get back in. But why chance it?" Kabuto shrugged and smirked.

"And how do I know these aren't just scare tactics?" It really did seem like a load of bull.

The man turned to leave, his smile never faltering, but before exiting the room, he glanced over his shoulder and said, "what do you think happened to all his other personal slaves?"

I could only stare, jaw clenched in fear, as he left me alone. What was that suppose to mean? It was an eerie insinuation that Sasuke-sama literally drove prior slaves to suicide. Okay I get it; he's evil. My intentions had already been secured in keeping a safe distance from him and everyone else here.

Heaving a sigh I gazed slowly around the room and quickly noted the contents were most humble with one lone wooden dresser on the far wall, a splintered stool in the corner and a tiny granite sink complete with a cracked mirror close to the door. It surely spelled 'peasant,' and yet my new status went below that of one. Guess I should be thankful they even gave me a decent bed.

Well, it won't be excrutiatingly painful to tolerate the meek amenities because after all, I wasn't staying long.

I gingerly stood up from the bed and slipped on a pair of sandals neatly placed on the end. 'Well, if no one needs me, i'll just be around investigating.'

The door opened without a sound, and I held my breath as I snuck a peak down the hallway, which thankfully was empty. Maybe I can find my way over to the stables again. This place was suffocating and I really needed some fresh air, even if that Sasuke guy needs me, he can just wait.

The torch-lit hallways seemed never ending, twisting here and there almost like a labyrinth- almost like it were built this way on purpose. Frustration scrunched my eyebrows together as I put a palm to the face, scolding myself for not asking Kabuto for some kind of map. Then I started turning into occupied hallways with all types of people scurrying about, some carrying heavy loads, others engaged in hushed conversations.

A few passed quickly by upon seeing me, dropping weird looks that I couldn't decipher. I decided to approach someone who hadn't noticed me yet. A young boy, probably no older than twelve years old, was busy talking to an elder woman carrying a load of what looked to be white bed sheets.

"Um, hi." My hand raised up in an awkward wave to greet them, as to which I received more weird stares. "I was just wondering if maybe one of you knew how to get to the stables? You know, one of the courtyards with all the animals?"

The young boy shifted nervously while looking up at the woman to see her reaction. She managed to wiggle a wrinkled finger down a passage to my right. "When you reach the fourth door on the left, take it and turn right down two flights of stairs. You'll end up in the greeting hall then you can continue following it down and it's the last door out."

Alright brain, remember that. "Thank you very much." I said and bowed my head. When I looked up, they were already shuffling the opposite way, as if I had the plague. Or something. Setting it aside for now, my feet attempted to follow the directions, and a few minutes later I found myself standing in the middle of a very familiar room. The room that us prisoners were first taken to, to be tested and sorted.

'They call it the greeting room, huh? Wasn't aware that hell had a greeting room.' I loudly scoffed and went back down the hallway I had recently tried to escape out of, and finally, there was sunlight and fresh air. Judging by the brightness, it was no later than noon. So that means I slept through the entire night and morning.

My lungs sucked in a big gulp of air and my body relaxed by the warmth of the summer sun. Despite the circumstances, it was a gorgeous day. I scanned the grounds, noting the chicken coop on the far right with long rows of various growing plants. The stables were just to my right with maybe thirty stalls filled with beautiful looking horses, and there were numerous cages and pens for all types of animals from pigs to sheep. Gazing towards the large piles of hay in the far left corner, a glimpse of short blonde hair rekindled something from my memory. I took a few steps forward, ignoring the stares some of the workers were giving me, and squinted my eyes to try and get a better look at the figure. Then she turned around and my heart jumped.

"ONI!" I shouted as relief flooded through me. She spotted me from across the way, her eyes growing big. I couldn't believe that I had nearly forgotten about her. My feet scurried through the groups of workers to Oni, who had dropped the bundle of hay she had been carrying and quickly embraced me, tears in her eyes. The world didn't feel so empty at that moment.

"Oh Sakura, I thought you were dead! When you ran and Sasuke went after you, I was certain he was going to kill you. And when you didn't come back I just..."

I squeezed her comfortingly as guilt riddled through me. In the short time we've known each other, she'd taken the role of someone like a big sister, and had gotten me through everything that had happened so far.

"It's okay, Oni, i'm alive." I said reassuringly. We let go and I smiled as she dried her eyes on the back of her kimono sleeve.

"I know." She said. "These are just tears of relief. So what really happened? The gossip around this dump is saying you're Sasuke's new slave. Is that true?"

I gave her a curious look. "Aren't we suppose to be calling him master or something? Won't we get in trouble?"

She waved a dismissive hand at me and smirked. "The last thing i'm going to do is call that jerk 'master.' And the worst they will do is take away a days ration of food. No big deal. So is it true?"

"Yes." I sighed a little exasperated. Not really wanting to get into an in depth discussion about it I quickly opened my mouth again.

"You don't seem to fear him, or the others." I pointed out. She scoffed. "It's a waste of time, you know. That's what they want you to do, fear them. But that's the last thing you want to do in this place, trust me."

I decided not to remark on that comment, but instead tried shifting the topic. "So, what do they have you doing?"

Oni crossed her arms and glared back towards the group of people working around the hay piles. "Field work. Mostly harvesting the food for the animals. Honestly, it's a waste of my talents."

My lips squeezed together, trying to hold back a laugh, but I just couldn't help it. Thankfully my headache was gone, otherwise it would've hurt. "Really? Your first day as a slave and you're already criticizing them for their lack of sight for talent? Because i'm sure washing all the dirty undergarments in this place is a much more glamorous job."

The blonde girl frowned. "Well, when Sasuke chased after you, Kabuto decided to finish up the placements, and that's why i'm here." Then her face turned thoughtful. "Actually, Sakura, your little disappearing act was a blessing to me. So I actually owe you one."

My head tilted to one side in confusion. "A blessing? How do you mean?"

Oni didn't have time to answer as a middle-aged burly man strode up wearing an odd metal ensemble. "What do you think you're doing? Get back to work!" He spat out angrily. Oni shot him a glare, as did I, and we didn't move.

"I happen to be having a conversation with my friend here. So if you don't mind, piss off!" Oni yelled back much to my surprise. The guard's face turned a bright red in anger, and he jerked his hand out to grasp Oni's arm tightly. She didn't seem to flinch but I could tell it was hurting her, which was only making her more upset. This girl had guts. And we now had most of the attention in the courtyard.

"How dare you speak to me that way, you filthy little slave!" He brought his other hand up in a motion to strike Oni, and that's when I got scared. I'm not sure what had possessed me, but I felt a surge of adrenaline mixed with a strong desire to protect my only friend, and I felt my body practically lunge for the man's arm. I grabbed it tight, using both arms and all of my strength to hold the force of his attack back.

Adrenaline is funny in that it can affect everyone a little differently inside its two boundaries of the flight or fight instinct. I apparently had triggered the fighting instinct, but along with that came something like tunnel-vision and the loss of sound and the world around me. My main focus was just holding back the man's arm from causing harm to Oni. I had no other plan but that, in fact no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't even think of a plan, not even just one move. Just stand my ground. And of course, it didn't last at all.

"Stupid girl!" The guard shouted, and I squeezed my eyes shut, bracing for something. I suddenly felt his arm lurch back with me still attached, and then thrown to the ground so hard that I lost my grip and had the wind knocked of out me.

My body immediately curled into the fetal position, taking in gasps of air as I heard Oni cry out my name. I turned my eyes upwards in time to see the guard push her away until she stumbled and fell to the hay covered ground. He turned back towards me with a crazy fire in his dark eyes, and mine opened wide as I watched him unsheath a long sword from his belt and point it at me. Was no one else going to step in? The rest of the slaves had frozen in place and appeared frightened. They weren't going to help.

"You failed to comply with a royal guard! And you dared to attack one! These crimes are only punishable by death, according to the law!" He shouted furiously at me and my heart literally stopped as I heard Oni gasp and yell, "no!"

Was this guy going to really kill me just because I stood up to him? My body began to tremble and tears instantly sprang to my eyes in a silent plea to the enraged man standing over me. 'Please, not now. I have so much I need to do before I die. I have to see my parents again!'

But, I could only stare frozen as the guard lifted the large sword, and with all his strength, swing it down towards me. No screams escaped my mouth and my chest ceased movement as I waited for the pain, the final moment of my life. There was a sudden rush of wind and a powerful surge of energy very close to me, and then something clanged loudly just inches from my head. After hearing several gasps, my eyes flew open to see what had delayed my inevitable death, and what I saw caused me to inhale sharply.

'It's him!' My dark new master was suddenly standing over me with a very large sword holding back the other blade. His face was hidden from this angle on the ground, but he must've looked something fierce from the apparent shock and terror on the guard's leathery one.

In one effortless moved, he forced the guard's sword to spin wildly out of his hands to make a high arc in the air until colliding with the stone wall. The man took a shaky step backwards and put his hands up in surrender. "M-master... I-I was only doing m-my duty, sir."

"You no longer have any duties." Sasuke's cold drone words seemed to hit the man like a ton of bricks, and he began to tremble uncontrollably. I watched, half in awe as I anxiously wondered what he had meant by those words.

I got my answer when, in a split-second, Sasuke was in front of the guard and had plunged his sword completely through the man's torso. Blood immediately poured out. My hand flew to my mouth to silence a scream. Sasuke pulled back the bloody sword and watched as the guard choked on his own blood and fell limp to the side.

Words could never describe how I felt in that moment. 'D-did he just...' Why couldn't I tear my eyes away from them!

Sasuke turned around and immediately the crowd of slaves dispersed and practically disappeared. Although hesitating, I saw Oni retreat from the courtyard out of the corner of my eye, throwing me worried glances the whole way.

"Get up." My limbs felt like jello as I tried to comply with his order, eyes still glued to the now dead guard. Once I managed it, Sasuke sauntered past me, indicating me to follow, and I did... ever so slowly.

We silently entered the compound through the same doors I had come out earlier. He led me down a flight of steps and down a number of hallways that I didn't care to memorize until we reached a pair of plain double doors which he opened. My head had become cloudy about two hallways back and now that we were stopped, I felt everything full force. I couldn't take it anymore. I happened to see a wooden bucket sitting against the far walll and I raced towards it. Practically collapsing on top of it, I threw up.

After emptying the miniscule contents of my stomach, I sat back shaking and slowly wiped my mouth with the back of my sleeve. Although my eyes were fixed on the bucket, all I could see was the body of the guard. Did he pay too high a price for what he nearly did?

Perhaps it wasn't the fact that he was dead, but how he died, that really stuck with me. That guy, Sasuke, didn't seem to hesitate or flinch at all. His actions went without hardly any emotion.

Something nudged me as my mind replayed the incident, and I looked up to notice a strange looking guy with what appeared to be a scabbard of a sword pressed against my right shoulder. I never heard Sasuke leave.

"I said, I hope you don't expect me to clean that up." The man pointed to the bucket.

When I failed to reply, he rolled his eyes and threw the scabbard onto a stone table and it clanged loudly against others. If it wasn't for his stark white hair contrasting with boyish features, I probably wouldn't have stared.

"Like what you see?"

I blinked, momentarily forgetting what happened just minutes ago, and answered, "is that really your natural color?"

He grinned even wider, revealing an unnatural row of razor sharp teeth, and I leaned away. "Well, is that yours? Not too many natural pink-headed girls running around here."

"Yes." My shaky legs pushed themselves off of the stone floor until they were facing the strange man, who turned out to be just a few inches taller than me.

"Then mine is too." He gave a small shrug and turned towards the table in a gesture to end the conversation. My eyes continued to study him, to watch every movement for any sign that he was a threat, a danger to me. Since my oh-so-charming master decided to leave me here with a stranger, I concluded he had to be relatively safe, unless this was perhaps my punishment. At any moment, I half expected the walls to lift to reveal a medieval dungeon complete with an array of cruel metal and wooden contraptions I've only seen in history books. This man would probably howl some evil laughter while conjuring up some crazy torture device.

'Okay, stop. You're letting your thoughts get the better of you.' We didn't speak for several moments and the air turned quickly into an awkward atmosphere so much so that I started playing with my hair like a dumb school girl. Ah hell, I may be a prisoner, but that didn't give me permission to throw manners out the door, I was brought up better than this. At least I can introduce myself.

"Well um... I'm Sakura. Sakura Haruno." That's as far as I go with pleasantries in this place. Without facing me he speaks, "Cherry blossom. Of course. It's Suigetsu." Did he just scoff at the meaning of my name?

"But you can call me handsome if you like. Charming, intelligent, smooth- take your pick." He finally turned his head to wink suggestively at me with oddly beautiful purple eyes. Were those natural too? Where in the world do you find people like this?

"I think i'll stick to Suigetsu, thank you." I retorted, crossing my arms. "And please tell me what exactly i'm suppose to do here."

I took a deep breath to relax in feeling my nerves creep to the edge with his immature comment. Banter is one thing, I can do that fairly well, but I will most certainly not tolerate being treated or made to feel like a piece of meat. Yukio use to wink like that too.

The man named, Suigetsu- with a smirk still painted on his face, quickly tossed a small towel into the air for me to catch, and then pointed to a large stone tub to his left.

"You're on weapon cleaning duty. Sasuke-sama said you should clean his sword as you were the one who soiled it."

My hand swung up to point hard at my chest. "I soiled it?"

Suigetsu nodded and appeared very amused. "He sees this as teaching you a lesson. Slaves need to be taught the proper etiquette on how to serve their masters in every way, around anyone. Washing down the blood of the man he had to slay in order to keep you in line, seems to be a good punishment."

"Are you serious!" Now my hands were at my side, balled into fists, perfectly prepared to punch a certain dark master into the next dimension. The event in the courtyard had momentarily been pushed to the side, but not the emotions that came from it.

Suigetsu now leaned himself up against the table, one arm across his mid-section while the other hand was currently being nonchalantly studied under those deep purple orbs. "Oh yes, he's serious, pinky. Sasuke-sama isn't much the humor type."

"Pinky?" And I definitely won't let anyone call me that. I marched straight up to him and hurled the towel at him, to which he caught easily just millimeters from his face.

"Listen here, sharkboy," -seeing as how he resembled a shark, it wasn't difficult thinking up a horrid nickname for him, and I was rather pleased with it- "don't ever call me by that name again, my name is Sakura, so use it! Also, what gives you the right to talk down to me? Just because you've all branded me a slave, doesn't mean I'm going to act like one nor put up with being treated unfairly!"

Whoa... since when did I become so bold?

I was seething, but hoped he had gotten the message. Yet, as the seconds passed in tense silence, his face had contorted into a mixture of pure anger and oddly enough, a half-crazed smile. It was beginning to frighten me and I took several steps back until my back hit the wall, all while keeping my eyes locked onto his face.

My heart beat wildly in my ears as the fear pumped my blood faster and harder throughout my body. I was ready to run.

Then his throat began to make a small noise, almost like a chuckle. He raised one hand as if to examine it, and upon watching it shake, an eerie laugh finally escaped his mouth. The laugh, sounding as evil as any villain from those old movies, rang through the armory room. This guy had to be crazy.

I watched, panicked, as he picked up a long double-edged sword and proceeded to stick out his tongue and lick the length of it.

"You know what I love to do the most?"

I could barely shake my head. That crazed look in his eyes hadn't wavered, and I wasn't sure if it was the same person who had flirted with me just moments ago.

"I love cutting things. Splitting things apart. Making one into two. And right now, i'd love to make two of you."

'H-he can't be serious!' Still holding the blade dangerously close to his face, he began to slowly close the gap between us.

"They say I have an art for murder. They say i've killed so many men, their blood could paint the skies twice over. They say i'm a monster. Now i'm curious." He stopped merely inches away, slammed a free hand on the spot on the wall near by head smirking wickedly. "What do you say?"

This guy was going to murder me with an outdated weapon unless by some miracle, Sasuke suddenly appeared. But I doubted that he would intervene on my behalf for a second time.

"Knock it off, Suigetsu. I think you've scared the girl enough."

Suigetsu whipped his head around at the new voice, hands remaining in place. Mine followed his until they settled on a figure leaning nonchalantly in the doorway, with hands in his pockets and donning a calm expression. Once again I was inclined to stare. However, his gray shirt and black baggy pants weren't the reason, but the color of his hair was a fiery orange and spiked out in all directions, and the eyes were a matching set. Somehow, this one didn't seem dangerous.

"But we're having fun!" Suigetsu argued throwing the figure a grin.

"Sasuke-sama would disapprove."

"Oh come now, Juugo, I was only having a bit of fun." Suigetsu's demeanor lightened considerably and instantly. He took a step back and half turned to the man named Juugo, and thankfully moved the sword to rest against his shoulder. "Besides, she was being too serious."

Juugo pushed against the door lazily and fully entered the small room. Neither of them wore the gray slave robes like I did, nor did they don the odd metal suit the guard had worn, but they did refer to Sasuke as a higher individual. A hand flew to my head as the sudden thought of the guard sent my stomach into another summersault. Juugo studied me but made no attempt to move closer.

"I have to apologize for Suigetsu here. He tends to go a little overboard with welcoming new... people. I am Juugo, by the way." The corner of his mouth twitched slightly in what could be an attempt* to smile. Although the softness of his voice helped to calm my nerves, I was still very frustrated.

"I'm Sakura and I appreciate your kindness, Juugo." I couldn't smile, but I didn't want to offend him so I shifted my eyes to glare at shark boy. "You call that a 'welcome'? You scared me to death you jerk!"

Suigetsu looked at me amusedly. "You're a bit of a feisty one, aren't you? Don't worry pinky, it was all good fun and besides, Sasuke-sama wouldn't have let me near you if I flipped out so easily. That's his job." He pointed back towards Juugo.

I closed my eyes and sighed with exhaustion. Even though a little over an hour had passed since I awoke, the events of the day plus the previous ones tugged on my sanity and I had no desire to fight anymore today. With another sigh I allowed my body to slide down the wall until I felt the floor. I could feel two sets of eyes on me but my head remained down.

"Are you alright, Sakura-chan? Do you need something to drink?" I shook my head at Juugo's question.

"I appreciate it, Juugo, really but... I really don't want to be welcomed. I just want to go home." I bit my lip to hold back the tears when I heard my voice crack. I drew my knees to my chest.

There was a quick clang that I assumed was Suigetsu tossing the sword back onto the table. "Hate to tell ya pinky, but you are home. We all live here, as one big happy family. Right Juugo?"

Apparently he didn't answer.

"Come on hurry and get up so we can get this cleaning over with." I raised my head to see Suigetsu motioning me to join him by the sink. "I'm so hungry ol' Juugo over there is starting to look tasty." He winked at him.

I suppose if this were a different setting, say perhaps school, and we were all friends, I would be laughing. Suigetsu had scared the crap out of me just a few minutes ago, and now he was back to joking around- which I hope was the norm. Apart of me wondered what the outcome would've been if Juugo hadn't of showed up so suddenly.

Speaking of which, said person was no longer standing in the room, in fact he had practically disappeared without a sound. I bit my inner cheek as my legs slowly lifted me from the cold ground. 'I'll have to find him later and thank him for... I guess intervening.' And why not? Besides Oni, he's the only one who has showed any form of civility in this forsaken place, and at this point, I need all the friends I can get.

I reluctantly joined the white-haired man by the sink, swiping the cloth I had thrown at him earlier from the table. "How long do we have to do this?"

Suigetsu smiled and handed me Sasuke's sword. "Until you see that pretty little reflection of yours in the blade." I rolled my eyes and sat down to scrub the dried blood and dirt, wielding my brain to not think about why it was there in the first place.

"After you're through, I'm suppose to tell you to head to the kitchens to retrieve Sasuke-sama's afternoon meal. He trains vigorously all day, so he has several small ones throughout the day to keep his stamina up." He plopped down onto the wooden stool next to me holding a small rusty dagger-like weapon.

'What? He actually trusts me with his food?' My mind explored various options on how to passively get some revenge and express my utter dislike for him and my new life. I would have to find some poison- the kind that just makes him really sick, not deadly- and I could add a few ingredients of my own... dirt, saliva, bugs etc. 'Sakura, stop. That's such petty stuff.'

After scolding myself, a question came to me. "Why does he train all day? What kind of training, exactly?"

"You're so interested all of a sudden." He smirked. "Why don't you ask him yourself?"

I stopped scrubbing and sent him a glare. "I never want to talk to that jerk again." To my surprise and to my displeasure, Suigetsu busted out in laughter. I hated to be laughed at.

"I like you already, pinky. You have some fire! But I can guarantee you, no one has ever called Sasuke-sama a jerk to his face and lived to brag about it."

His words made me frown in thought because he had a good point. Going around calling him names out loud would be seriously pushing my luck, and I needed all I could get if I'm ever going to get out of here.

"There's something I don't really understand." Suigetsu glanced up but didn't answer. "Why... why did he save me from that guard? According to all of you, I'm just a lowly slave, completely replaceable."

I studied the contemplative look on his face. "Sasuke-sama may be a killer..." He started to say slowly. "But... he doesn't like to do it if it's unnecessary."

"But the guard said I had broken some law that I wasn't even aware of. He said it was punishable by death, and I assumed it was a common thing from the reactions of the people around us. They didn't even attempt to stop it." I had stopped scrubbing at this point and unknowingly leaned towards him.

"Hmm. You did break a law, two in fact, and they are punishable by death. And yet, you're alive, all because of Sasuke-sama." He then looked back at me with an odd expression, like he was trying to figure something out. After a quick moment he opened his mouth to finish his previous thought, "If there's one thing I know about Sasuke-sama, it's that he never does anything without a solid reason. I don't believe he saved you on good graces alone, no, so there must be a reason why he wants you alive."

I looked down, contemplating his words. They were vague, but it certainly raised new questions. If he had wanted me for pleasurable reasons, he would've taken me by now, but so far he's only touched me once, and has spoken not but a few words. What else could he possibly want? I have no essential talents for him to exploit, I have no money, no power, nothing. I decided not to question Suigetsu any further, because I had an idea he wouldn't reveal anything more to me. He probably knew as much as I did anyway.

A few minutes of silence went by as I tried to map out my next moves, and before I knew it, the sword was glistening.

"All done there, pinky?"

"I think so. Am I free to go now?" I impatiently handed over the sword for him to inspect. He nodded in approval a moment later and stood up to put it away.

"You're all through here." Suigetsu winked and smiled wide when he saw my eyes roll up. I practically pounced for the door, eager to get out of the stuffy room to map out the rest of the compound. But before I stepped into the hallway, I turned my head back and said, "oh and as long as you continue to call me 'pinky,' i'm going to continue to refer to you as 'shark boy.' Got it?"

His smile turned into a wide smirk and his eyes sparkled with playfulness. "Got it, pinky."

Alright finally! So next we'll see if Sakura actually makes it to the kitchen, and we'll see how she deals with more 'slave' duties put on by the oh so charming Sasuke. )