Author's Notes:

I apologize for the delay everyone. My only excuse: life was simply too overwhelming.

Thanks so much for reviewing guys. It means a lot to me! For those who saw flaws in my plot, you are very astute!! However, I just wanted to point out that if you can see them, so did the author. I am refusing to clarify them right away because they will be clarified in later chapters. However, feel free to bring up any other jargons and inconsistency. I may not catch them all the time. (~_*)

For those who wish this to be a SasuNaru, keep insisting! I am easily persuade, so I'm told. To be honest, there's a prequel to this that pretty much gives away the coupling, but as I wasn't sure how you guys would take it, I skipped ahead to this part, hence the utter confusion, or as people stated: "mystery". (

However, as I began to read other fanfics, I realized how naïve my assumption was. You guys are definitely ready for anything and everything, considering all the strange (but good!) "innuendos" you're exposed to. Therefore I'm going ahead with my diabolic storyline! *Laughs wickedly*. I'll have the first chapter of the prequel posted soon, so check it out!! SasuNaru fans may just find I've granted their wish after all.

For those who feel this is moving too slowly I hope you don't mind the 'unraveling plotline', so to speak. This is going to be a long AU and I'm paranoid about plot and character development, so I don't want to hasten through events and have only the skeleton to present. Hopefully you can learn to understand and perhaps even like my writing style? *Gasp*

Well, in any case, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not owe Naruto.


The Faithful Night

The end of the week passed lazily. Much to Sasuke's relief, he had recovered most of his strength. The only pain left was in his right hand, the occasional jolt of which brought tears to his eyes. But whenever he questioned the doctor about it, he merely shook his head and reassured Sasuke that it would be dealt with. Sasuke could only patiently wait for the promised cure.

That evening two men came to Sasuke's room and told him he was to join their master for dinner. They had with them a wheelchair and insisted that he sat on it, although Sasuke told them he could walk perfectly fine. But rather than argue a losing battle, Sasuke obediently let them roll him into a large room. After helping him onto a velvet cushion on the tatami floor, they bowed and left through a side door.

Just as Sasuke was looking about himself at the spacious room with its traditional decorations, his eyes fell on a pair of samurai swords lying on a mahogany stand. Although Sasuke lacked knowledge of such weapons, he could see that they were wonderfully made and even the stand they stood on boasted of great craftsmanship.

As Sasuke was admiring the swords, the large sliding doors to his right opened and in walked Dr. Ichari and Miyoko. They were both dressed in exquisite traditional customs. The doctor wore a formal samurai kimono in a subdued black that enhanced the whiteness of his skin. Although his clothes were of a simple design, they were made with rich silk that swirled and changed colors as he walked.

Miyoko, on the other hand, presented an adorable image in her white yukata, embroidered with crimson flowers of assorted shades of red. Her golden curls were held up in a conservative bun high on her head, decorated by a sole flower of the same vibrant red as her embroidery. For a little child she walked with incredible grace and beauty.

Behind her trailed two guards almost identical to the ones who'd accompanied Sasuke. They escorted with them a little figure, who Sasuke did not recognize at first because of his outlandish custom. The boy was draped, rather uncomfortably, in a royal blue robe of similar design to Dr. Ichari's kimono. He wore on his socked feet traditional wooden clogs, which he shuffled on the floor, having yet to learn how to use them gracefully.

The boy was eagerly surveying the room and sure enough his eyes met Sasuke's. Sasuke did not have to hear his happy cry to know who it was. He could never forget the blueness of those eyes when they had once stared at him with concern and joy. Naruto had arrived.

Forgetting his clogs, Naruto raced towards Sasuke, his arms outstretched. Sasuke braced himself for a hug, but was taken aback when he found his cheeks pinched in Naruto's fierce grip.

"Ha, ha! You're alive! I thought I saw a ghost when I came in," Naruto cried, as he increased the pressure on Sasuke's cheeks and twisted them about.

Sasuke angrily gave Naruto's stomach a solid punch, which sent him flying backwards right into the unsuspecting guards, toppling all three of them to the ground.

"How childish," said Miyoko, as she kneeled down on her designated cushion next to Dr. Ichari, who was already seated.

"Please," said Dr Ichari, "bring our guests some refreshments."

He clapped his hands and in came ten women. Four of them carried with them short little tables, which they placed one in front of each person. Following them came the tea bearers who poured them each a cup of sweet- smelling, herbal tea. Behind them were treat bearers, who placed scrumptious dishes of assorted cakes on their tables.

Once this was completed, six of them bowed and left through the door they came. The remaining four stood off to the side, ready to assist in any ways necessary.

Sasuke eyed the food warily and watched as Dr. Ichari and Miyoko took a bite first before he cautiously picked up a piece of cake. Naruto, however, had already drunk his tea and finished half of his sweets. He was now snapping his fingers at the female servants, his teacup raised high in the air. A young servant with a pretty face came forward and started to pour Naruto his tea.

Except as she kneeled to do this, her head snapped sharply backwards from a devastating blow. The girl fell sobbing. Standing above her stood Miyoko, whip in hand. Sasuke had barely seen Miyoko move from her place, much less take out her whip and use it. The poor servant girl was cowering in fear and begging forgiveness. The other servants quickly bowed their excuses and taking the crying girl in their hands removed her from the room.

Miyoko replaced the whip back into the sash of her yukata before turning to face Naruto. Picking up his cup, which had fallen at her unexpected attack, she began to pour Naruto his tea.

Kneeling she presented the cup to him with both hands, saying ill naturedly: "Only I will serve you, Naruto."

All the while as this was happening, Dr. Ichari had never taken his eyes off his teacup. He continued sipping from it quietly, completely oblivious to what had just happened. After finishing his drink and placing it on the table he clapped his hands once and two other servants rushed in to clean up the spilt tea and the broken teapot.

Sasuke turned his eyes back to Naruto who still sat facing Miyoko, refusing to take the teacup she offered.

"Please, don't do that again, Miyoko," he said in a voice that was so soft Sasuke barely heard it.

He had never seen Naruto speak in such a manner before: his voice so calm and yet full of authority. Miyoko's lips trembled and she smashed the cup to the ground vindictively. Standing up quickly she started back to her seat, only to be halted by Naruto, who had grasped her wrist as she went pass him. Sasuke could not read Naruto's expression as his face was downcast, but he heard his voice clearly.

"Don't be this way, Miyoko. You were so pretty before sitting there. You know you don't look like her when you act like this."

Miyoko looked as if Naruto had slapped her. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she did not cry. For a split second time seemed to freeze as the battle between the little mistress and her restrainer waged silently onwards. In the end it was Miyoko whose shoulders slacked and whose fists unclenched. She took a step forward, expecting Naruto to release her, but instead his grip tightened.

He tugged her back gently a couple of steps. Then his hand slid from her wrist down to her little hand and he gave it an encouraging, light squeeze. Miyoko's eyes widened in shock and she pulled her hand sharply away. Running back to her seat, she sat down, holding her hand as if Naruto had burned it. Sasuke saw, however, that she was smiling.

Dr. Ichari had not let that little scene escape him, but forging casualness, he ordered the main course to be brought out. Naruto had completely regained his happy disposition by now and was gulping down the food much to Miyoko's amusement. Dr. Ichari was the only one who barely touched his dinner, happily content to listen to the playful conversation Miyoko and Naruto shared. Even Sasuke could not believe the change that came over Miyoko. She was now all laughter and smiles and if he hadn't witnessed it himself he would never believed that she'd smacked a servant girl just a short while ago.

Naruto finally noticed the uneaten plate in front of Dr. Ichari and pointed a greasy finger accusingly at him. Miyoko's laughter abruptly stopped and she seemed pained for having forgotten the doctor's condition. Pilling food onto his plate with her chopsticks, she gently urged him to eat. Dr. Ichari chuckled lightly and took a small bite, his obedience earning him a smile of approval from the watching Miyoko.

Looking on, Sasuke could have sworn that for a brief second there she had been the parent and Dr. Ichari the child.


The // is equivalent to three consecutive periods. In other words, a pause.

The Interrogation

Once dinner was completed and the plates and table removed, Dr. Ichari sat back with his hands crossed, looking at Naruto and Sasuke sternly. Miyoko sat silently beside him, head bowed and hands neatly folded in her lap.

"I'm sure you have a lot of questions to ask me," the doctor stated simply.

Naruto did not reply, so Sasuke took the initiative and spoke for the both of them.

"We would like to know where we are, whose household this is, and why you saved us."

"You are at the Mimatos' family estate, a mile or so from the Hidden Sand Village. Miyoko here is the mistress, and it is because of her wishes that you were saved. Any other questions?"

Sasuke remained silent.

"You needn't worry. I will try to answer your questions as best I can."

"The Wind Master, what was he to you?" Sasuke finally asked cautiously.

Naruto turned sharply to face him, his eyes voicing what he did not: "Isn't the Wind Master dead? What does he have to do with Dr. Ichari and Miyoko?"

Dr. Ichari's eyes clouded over, but he responded unhesitatingly: "He was my brother."

Sasuke heard Naruto gasp, but ignored him.

"Why did you.Why was he after us?"

"I didn't send him if that's what you're thinking. I haven't seen him for nearly half a year. He went on his own account. Why he wished to harm you, I can't say."

"How did you come to save us?"

"The Mimatos' estate is well hidden from the Sand Village. In fact, only a few know it even exists. However, despite our seclusion, we do keep informed of the comings and goings of those in this valley. A while back we heard that skilled ninjas of the Sand Village had been assigned a secret mission. Thinking they've discovered us, I sent several of my men to follow them. Reports soon returned from our scouts, informing us that they've followed these ninjas to the outskirts of the Hidden Leaf Village. That was when we realized that we were never their targets to begin with. I decided to recall our men immediately, but when Miyoko heard who they were after she insisted that they stayed to help you."

"You've heard of us??" interjected Naruto.

"Of course, who haven't heard of the great Nine-Tails Demon Fox sealed within a child named Uzumaki Naruto. And as for you, Sasuke, you're one of the two last surviving members of the Uchida clan, known for their Sharingan technique. How could we not have heard of you two?"

"You know my brother?" questioned Sasuke. "Where is he?"

"Your brother is unknown to me, Sasuke. I only know he still lives because rumours claim he is. I fear I cannot help you find him."

Sasuke could feel Naruto's questioning stare and hastened to change the subject.

"So after you decided to stay?" he prompted.

"The rest you should know, Sasuke. You and Naruto defeated two of them, yourselves."

"There were more than two?" cried Naruto.

"Yes, there were fifteen of them in total," the doctor responded calmly.

"But why didn't they all come after us? What happened to the other thirteen?" Naruto asked.

Before Dr. Ichari could answer, Sasuke replied: "They were already killed by Dr. Ichari's brother, the Wind Master."

The doctor sighed. "As much as he was my brother, he was also a mystery. It was only after we found the bodies of the thirteen and I examined their wounds did I realize that he was there."

"But the two who attacked us, they were so."

"Easy? Truth of the matter is they were already injured from the fight with my // the Wind Master. That was what allowed you to defeat them quickly. After you chased them away, my men pursued, intent on disposing them, so as to prevent any future returns, but // "

"But when you found them they were already dead," Sasuke stated simply.

"Yes, the Wind Master had finished them off."

"So your men watched as the Wind Master poisoned Naruto and attempted to kill me," Sasuke stated coldly.

"There was nothing they could do against him. He was so much stronger and with the poison he had, it would have been impossible to save you. However, it seemed you managed to // save yourself just fine, Sasuke."

Sauce's eyes narrowed. After a pause the doctor continued.

"After I learned of the Wind Master's death and your plight I came, myself, with Miyoko. I had my assistants bury the bodies of the fifteen in a remote place, while Miyoko and I searched for the two of you. It took us several hours, but we finally found you and the rest you already know."

"What I don't understand is why you buried those assassins. After what they came to do, I would have left them to the wild animals," growled Naruto.

"You don't understand, Naruto. Dr. Ichari was trying to protect us. The leader of the Sand Village will soon realize that his men are missing, but even if he should choose to investigate their disappearance, he would never find hind or tail of them, and thus they would remain forever just that: missing," explained Sasuke.

"What does it matter if he knows they're dead? They deserved it."

"He would deny any accusations at assassination. Although his men were trespassing our boundaries, they never entered our village. Besides espionage is a common thing amongst ninja villages, even between those that have alliances like ours. His men have done nothing that ours haven't done before. Not to mention that they weren't technically on our land."

"I've nearly forgotten about our alliances with them."

"It's more of a truce than anything else, but, nevertheless, it's a truce that has prevented any major battles between our village and theirs. We can't afford to lose this peace. Promise me that when we get home you'll mention nothing of this to anyone."

Naruto nodded.

"There's one thing you haven't told us, doctor."

"And what's that, Sasuke."

"What did you do with the Wind Master's body?"

"As much as you would have liked to see him left to the animals, I couldn't. He was, after all, my brother. I had to give him a decent burial."

"Not to mention that you couldn't afford to let the Sand Villagers know it was one of you who killed their men."

"We couldn't let them know we existed, period. My brother was reckless. He risked all our lives doing what he did."

"There's one more question I have to ask."

"About the blood? I knew that question has been plaguing you. Have you guessed who the donor is yet?"

"You told me he would be amongst a group of people that you would personally introduce, but I have yet to see this group."

"They've been here all along, Sasuke," Dr. Ichari said.

As he did, twelve men dressed in black emerged from the shadows. They bowed respectively to Dr. Ichari and Miyoko and took their places behind them in single line. Dr. Ichari stood up and walking down the row, introduced each one.

"I call them my twelve disciples," he said softly before resuming his seat.

As he did the twelve stepped back into the shadows and disappeared.

"Now that you've seen everyone here, who do you think it is?" asked the doctor.

"I don't know," Sasuke replied.

"Well, I can tell you now it's not Miyoko or myself and as you already know it can't be you, who does that leave?"

"I don't understand," Sasuke answered, confused.

"Naruto, perhaps you'd like to help him?"

Sasuke turned to face Naruto who had kept quiet all this time. He could see Naruto's left eyebrow twitching and the muscles in his cheek working furiously.

"It was me, you idiot!" Naruto hollered jumping up.

He gave Sasuke's butt a tremendous kick, which sent him crashing into a screen door. It was seconds later before Sasuke rose from the rumble, fire in his eyes. He raced towards Naruto and was about to punch him when someone tripped him and he went skidding across the tatami floor.

Rising painfully he heard Miyoko say: "No one hurts Naruto." Naruto stood behind his little protector and stuck out his tongue.

"Be a man and stop having someone else fight your battles. I can't believe you're hiding behind a little girl!" Sasuke cried angrily.

"And I can't believe you can't say thank-you!" Naruto yelled back.

That stopped Sasuke in his tracks. What was he doing? Naruto saved his life and as much as he wanted to beat the pulp out of him he wouldn't be standing here thinking that very thought if it hadn't been for Naruto.

"Please stop, before you destroy everything else in this house," pleaded the doctor gently.

Sasuke and Naruto reluctantly sat down.

"Doctor," Sasuke finally asked, "how could Naruto's blood possibly save me?"

"You forget he has the spirit of the nine-tails demon fox in him. I suppose you didn't consider that when you sucked out some of his poisoned blood. Really, Naruto was perfectly capable of saving himself. Although the Wind Master's poisons are deadly and without a cure, the energy of the nine-tailed fox was already in the process of neutralizing it. In a couple of days, Naruto would have been fine. But // "

"You had to go and be the hero // " Naruto chided.

"Naruto, please. But by sucking out his poison, you only managed to poison yourself. Hence the pain you felt. Thanks heaven you only swallowed a little, or else // "

"You cost me six tubes of blood!" interrupted Naruto and shook Sasuke by the collar.

"Anymore and I couldn't even ensure that Naruto could save you," continued Dr. Ichari as if Naruto hadn't interrupted.

"Huh?" said both boys in the midst of their quarrel.

"I was risking your very life when I gave you Naruto's blood. Its very energy could have overloaded your system and made you mad, or even worst, ruptured your arteries. Fortunately, I made the correct calculations and gave you the proper dosage. But, in truth, that is all I did. Naruto was the one who healed your cheek and freed you from the poison of the Wind Master."

"Dr. Ichari is the best doctor there is," added Miyoko proudly, "He never makes any mistakes."

"Now, now, Miyoko. We both know I've made some in the past."

"But you're making up for them right now. You're // "

"Miyoko, enough," said the doctor in a cold voice. Miyoko fell silent and so did Sasuke and Naruto.


There's a prequel to "Friends or Foes" that will be posted soon. For those who still wonder about what happened in the cave between Sasuke and Naruto keep your eyes open for it. The AU will be entitled "To Forgive and Forget" and is, in itself, a long series. Hope you'll like. Bye for now!!