Authors' Note: My apologies for the very late update. This story is not dead. However, this is my first attempt to write seriously and with work and my own laziness/ lack of muse, I find myself to be a very slow writer indeed. So, please expect the same for any future updates :P

Disclaimer: I owned nothing here except this story itself.


Interlude: The Hokage's Watch

It was one week after the tragedy that was named "The Uchiha Massacre". Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Third Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato was currently standing in silence, watching through the observation window into the isolation room a.k.a 'the suicide watch' room.

Currently there was a single occupant in the isolation room; the sole survivor of 'the Tragedy', young Uchiha Sasuke. Sasuke was found catatonic inside his family home, in the same room as his deceased parents. Investigators deduced that Sasuke was present when the murder occurred. He was then probably subjected to an intense Sharingan induced Genjutsu, inducing his catatonia. Since he was found and brought to the hospital, he has awoken once on the second day. The resulting trauma-induced breakdown and near berserker state forced the medical head to relocate him to the isolation room, putting him under Suicide Watch. He had not awoken since.

Looking into the isolation room, Sarutobi Hiruzen keenly felt his years pressing upon him. Given the moniker of 'God of Shinobi', he had been through much in his life. It was a testament of his skills that he had last beyond retirement age. In fact, he was among a handful of Shinobi worldwide that actually officially retired due to age. Of course, it didn't last long…but he digressed. At the moment, he felt old. He also felt terrible sadness and great anger. Sadness, at the fate of this child he is looking at, not to mention this child's exceptional brother. Terrible anger, at the late Uchiha Elders and Clan-head, of whose actions necessitate this whole tragedy in the first place; also anger at his old team-mates and boyhood friend, who pushes for this terrible resolution. In fact, they went behind his back to initiate this bloodbath. This anger was also fueled by guilt. The guilt that he allowed this travesty to happened in the first place; that he failed Uchiha Sasuke and his brother; failed the innocent Uchiha clan members; and failed his predecessors, in that a Noble Clan was almost wipe-out under his watch.

He had been standing there in silence for half an hour, radiating a heavy present that discourage anyone from approaching. He was aware of the various 'minions' that were awaiting his pleasure, some even had files in hand that needed his attention, but none dared intrude upon his vigil. It was well that they keep quite. His patience was at its last dregs at the moment, and his anger was giving him energy and vitality of his peak. In short, woe be whomever that attract his ire.

"Report," he muttered at last, breaking the silence.

There was a brief exchange of glances among the 'minions'. Then Nara Shikaku, Jonin Commander of Konohagakure step forward to begin his report.

"Hokage-sama," he began. "It was confirmed no other Uchiha survived. We just received a confirmation that the last group outside the village that contained an Uchiha was terminated just like the others. The thing of note is that unlike the other groups, we cannot confirm that the kill was made by Itachi. While it is possible, due to the distance involved it seems unlikely unless he has access to time-space transportation jutsu. However, this is just a preliminary conclusion. We are awaiting the detail report from the Hunter-nin before we can say anything more." Report completed, he quickly moved back a step to rejoin the other 'minions'. It was troublesome, however, he was in no way suicidal enough to offer himself under the Hokage's cross-hair at the moment.

The Hokage nodded slowly. "And Itachi's whereabouts?" he asked.

Inuzuka Tsume let out a slow sigh and step forward. Her movements strangely subdued. Like the others, she knows who the 'alpha' in the room was, and in no mood to put herself under her alpha's ire.

"We confirmed that Uchiha Itachi is no longer in the Land of Fire. However, we lost his trail somewhere in the borders of Rice country. We have assigned our top squad to find the trail outside our borders; however, our odds to finding him and bringing him to justice are negligible." The leader of the Hunter-nin division quickly stepped back after giving her lackluster report.

The Hokage sigh sadly. "It is to be expected. Please finalize our bounty report. We will release our updated bingo entry by 1600 hours. Also please liaise with Jiraiya. Perhaps his 'contacts' have news." The Inuzuka matriarch nodded her compliance.

"Hiashi-san?" The Hokage directed Hyuuga Hiashi, the interim head of Konoha's Security.

The Hyuuga Head step forward calmly, his white eyes inscrutable.

"Hokage-sama. No further unrest has been reported. We estimated the martial-law can be lifted by tomorrow. We have submitted a proposal on future security deployment on your desk for your approval. The Uchiha compound has been fully sealed as per your orders. Uchiha Sasuke will need to be integrated into the seal structure once he is released. The Uchiha finances have also been frozen at the moment. We have also submit our proposal on a formation of a financial forensic group dedicated to look into the Uchiha's finances, in particular Uchiha's Itachi finances. It's a long shot, but he might overlook that venue of attack." Hyuuga Hiashi reported calmly, the picture of dignified efficiency, as befit his status as Head of a Noble Clan.

"Good. I will review your proposals and present it to the council. As for the martial-law, extend it for another week. We will need the peace to deal with other issues. Update on Sasuke-kun?" the Hokage directed his last question to the Head Medic, finally coming to the reason of his visit.

Nono Yakushi, one of the Medic-nin captains, gave a slight cough to clear his throat. "Sasuke-kun is currently stable. Physically, he has fully recovered and in no danger. Mentally, well…our Yamanaka consultant says that he is in a 'self-induced-dream-mode'. Basically it means that his mind has shut down and enters the REM mode, where subconsciously he can start to process what has happened. It is highly recommended that we wait for him to wake up on his own. If we forcefully wake him up, we might trigger another break-down like what happened previously."

His back to his 'minions', the Hokage gave a slight sad smile at the mentioned of Sasuke-kun little breakdown.

'Did you hear, Itachi-kun, while it's inappropriate, Sasuke-kun has already shows some promise with his little tantrum. It took six full-sized adults to restrain him, and even then he managed to deal a few broken bones to four of them. You don't need to worry about him. Your brother is strong. And I promise you that I will protect him…and I will not fail him like I failed you.'