(-Author's Notes-)

Well, Here's the sequel to Prodigies. Time to discover what happened to Neji and Sasuke after their battle. Okay, Read on.

(-Summary, Disclaimer, etc.-)

SUMMARY: After his battle with Neji, Sasuke finds himself back in Konoha. But, What is this about another threat and what does Sasuke know about it?

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Naruto or the characters contained therein, they are property of Kishimoto Masashi. I am merely borrowing them for non-profit fanfiction.

RATING: T - M

GENRE: Various (Primarily Action)

LENGTH?

PAIRINGS: Sasuke/Sakura & Neji/Tenten (hints at: Naruto/Hinata & possibly Kakashi/Kurenai)

WARNINGS: Blood, Violence, & Possible Language.

(-THREAT FROM WITHIN-)

Sasuke's eyes slowly open to reveal the ceiling of an indoor room to his gaze and he quickly shoots up into a sitting position, causing a sharp pain to make itself known as he grunts in reaction. A pair of hands place themselves one on each of his shoulders and he sees a familiar face.

"Don't move around so much, Sasuke-kun." Sakura says, gently pushing the Uchiha back down onto the bed, "Your body hasn't recovered completely, yet."

"Sakura...?" questions Sasuke, as his eyes remain afixed on the pink-haired kunoichi standing at the left side of the bed he's on. It becomes apparent to the Uchiha that he is in a hospital back in Konoha... so, it was true. He had fought that Hyuuga guy and, if memory served, he lost. But, How did he wind up back in Konoha? The Hyuuga had lost consciousness even before Sasuke himself.

Slowly, Sasuke's eyes begin to scan around the hospital room, from Sakura moving toward the right. He sees: Ino, Naruto, Kakashi, Gai, Rock Lee, & Sai. Upon seeing Sai, Sasuke's eyes widen ever-so-slightly before closing and then re-opening with the Sharingan active. Then, suddenly, He shoves Sakura back against Ino with his left arm as he retrieves a kunai from her back pouch in his right hand.

The raven-haired Uchiha suddenly lunges toward Sai and, before his lookalike can react, slashes his throat with the attained kunai... shocking everyone with the action as they're left in stunned silence, having been unable to do anything. Sai's body crumples to the floor as Sasuke turns his face toward the other occupants of the hospital room, his face stained somewhat with the slain shinobi's blood and his eyes holding a look that would frighten almost anyone.

"S-Sasuke-kun?" Sakura ventures, still in shock as she takes a step toward him.

"That isn't Sai!" Sasuke states, frighteningly, "It's a kage-bunshin!"

"Huh?" is the concensus among the people gathered. And, sure enough, the blood on Sasuke's face disappears as Sai's body vanishes in a puff of smoke.

"But, How'd ya know his name was Sai?" questions Naruto.

"The real man who went by the codename, Sai, was a member of a secret organization operating here inside Konoha!" Sasuke informs, "But, He was killed almost two months ago!" he suddenly feels weak, his eyes returning to normal, and he drops the kunai from his hand but braces himself against his knees.

Of course, Sakura rushes to the Uchiha's side and assists him to where he can sit on the edge of the hospital bed. "How can you be sure?" she asks.

Sasuke's eyes remain afixed on the floor, "Because I'm the one who killed him." he responds.

This announcement gains an audible gasp from the occupants of the room.

Across the hall, in another room, Tenten is with Neji who is observing the events in the other room with his Byakkugan.

"I see." Neji says, "So, That's it."

"What is it, Neji?" asks Tenten from the side of the Hyuuga's hospital bed.

"Just now, The Uchiha revealed that Sai person to be a kage-bunshin." Neji explains, "And, from his lip movements, I can decipher that he told them the real Sai was a member of a secret organization in Konoha."

Back in Sasuke's room, "But, Who could've created the bunshin?" queries Sakura, "And, Why would they choose a dead member of that supposed organization?"

"With that level of control," Sasuke explains, eyes still on the floor, "It has to be Itachi! Afterall, What better way to keep tabs on Naruto?"

"So, Itachi created the bunshin and disguised it as Sai so he could keep an eye on Naruto's activities." Kakashi adds, quite matter-of-factly for the one eyed jounin, "Those Akatsuki are some really scary guys."

"Indeed! But, If this secret organization does actually exist," Gai inserts, stroking his chin in thought, "What is their connection with the Akatsuki?"

"Even I don't know the answer to that." Sasuke says, finally altering his gaze from the floor to the window.

After a short stretch of silence, Sakura finally asks a question that everyone should be wondering about, "How do you know all this stuff, Sasuke-kun?"

"Information I gathered while I was with Orochimaru." Sasuke replies.

Elsewhere...

Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame are shown sitting atop two large boulders. Itachi's eyes open and he releases his hands from the seal he's been holding, lowering them to his sides.

"So, They discovered the kage-bunshin, did they?" questions Kisame, smiling as he already knows the answer.

"Hmph." Itachi responds, re-closing his eyes, "That brat brother of mine. He's persisting in becoming quite the nuisance."

"If that's the case then," Kisame points out, "Why didn't you just kill him with the rest of your clan?"

)-Back in Konoha Hospital-(

"... by the way." Sasuke says, after a long stretch of silence, "I can't feel the pain from the curse... why?"

"Because I sealed it..." a man's voice says, drawing everyone's attention to the window. A male ninja is shown, sitting on the window-sill, and looking out into Konoha. The lower half of his face is shrouded by a black mask and his attire is nothing even akin to that of Konoha ninja.

"Who are you?" further questions the raven-haired Uchiha.

"Once, I was known as the Debiru Tora -Devil Tiger-..." the man responds, not moving his eyes from the village outside the window, "That is all you need to know..."

"But, What about the curse on Sasuke-kun's neck?" asks Sakura, now more curious than Sasuke himself.

"It is quite simple." the mystery ninja replies, "The level of the sealing jutsu I used on the curse is beyond that of the curse itself..." "For you see," he continues, finally turning his reddish-gray eyes toward the occupants of the room, "I am quite familiar with Orochimaru's tricks."

Sasuke raises his left hand to cover the spot on his neck where the symbol of the curse remains, his face wearing an expression of uncertainty. After observing the raven-haired Uchiha for the past few moments, Sakura finally turns back to the still un-named shinobi at the window to ask one more question.

"Does this mean the curse won't bother Sasuke-kun anymore?" the pink-haired medical ninja asks, worried about Sasuke as usual.

"Iie." the masked shinobi replies, turning his gaze back out toward Konoha, "No seal is absolute, the only way he can truly be rid of the curse is if he dies or someone kills Orochimaru." this causes Sakura to sigh somewhat defeated. "Ultimately, The decision still lies with Sasuke himself." the mystery ninja continues, "However, You may be able to help him choose correctly." silence veils the entirety of the room once again as the still unknown shinobi stands up from the window sill and turns toward the bed where Sasuke appears still in thought, somewhat oblivious to the most recent conversation about himself.

"Uchiha Sasuke." the masked shinobi says, finally re-gaining the Uchiha's attention, "You can never defeat Itachi with hatred... as your level of hate shall never match his." Sasuke's eyes narrow at the mention of his brother's name. "If you try, he will defeat you again. Orochimaru can not help you, his abilities are incapable of defeating Itachi as is the path to obtain the Mangekyou Sharingan..." he continues explaining to the Uchiha, "The Mangekyou is a double-edged sword, both Itachi's greatest strength and most severe weakness. Sasuke, You must train your eyes to defeat his." with his explanation finished, the ninja begins making several hand seals.

"... who are you, really?" asks Sasuke.

"Really?" repeats the un-named shinobi, "Nothing more than a shadow on a wall..." as the words escape his lips, his body vanishes in a puff of violet smoke.

After another long stretch of silence, Kakashi turns to his -rival-, "Gai, I think it's time we talked to Godaime-sama." he says, an unusual seriousness to his face (technically, though, his right eye is the only part of his -face- that's visible).

Gai appears to think for a moment, "You're right Kakashi, my rival!" he agrees, "We have much information for Godaime-sama, indeed!" and with that, the two jounin take their leave. Shortly thereafter, Lee vacates the room as well.

"Well, I'm going to let Shikamaru and Chouji know that Sasuke-kun's okay." Ino says and, with a wave and some friendly parting words, she leaves too.

"... don't you have somewhere to go too, Naruto?" Sakura asks the only other person left in the room with Sasuke, aside from herself.

Naruto is about to respond with a negative answer when the pink-haired kunoichi gives him a death-glare that would give Neji a run for his money in its effect. "Uh, Yeah." Naruto responds instead, "Iruka-sensei was going to buy me ramen today." and, with that, away the blonde-haired jinchuuriki goes.

"Now, Sasuke-kun, why don't you lie down and get some rest?" Sakura says, smiling, "There's no one else left here to distract you."

Sasuke looks up at her, "What about you?" he asks, "You're still here?"

Sakura laughs a bit, remembering that Sasuke's always been like that, "Oh, me?" responds the green-eyed girl, taking a seat next to the bed, "I'm a medical ninja now. And, I'm going to be your nurse until you're out of the hospital."

"... all the more reason for me to heal quickly." Sasuke says, as typical of himself.

"Exactly." Sakura says, still smiling and not seeming the least bit upset.

/Scene-switch/

Meanwhile, In Tsunade's office...

"And, You're sure about this?" Tsunade asks, "Can the information be trusted?"

"That depends," Kakashi replies, retaining his fleeting serious nature, "It's true that Danzou wished to contempt Sandaime's becoming Hokage. However, Do you believe that he would betray Konoha in order to take control?"

Tsunade appears to think about this for several moments, "You're right, Kakashi." she finally responds, "It's no coincedence that Danzou vanished shortly after Team 7, with Yamato as leader, left on their mission."

"Godaime-sama, You must reveal to us this man's tactics!" Gai states, "So that we can prevent whatever he may be planning!"

Tsunade sighs, "Alright..." and, so, she begins explaining to them about Danzou and the unit -Ne, or Root- that he created within the Anbu.

)-Back in Konoha Hospital-(

Sasuke is still sitting up in the bed, Sakura watching him closely as if expecting him to try to take off again... and she doesn't intend to let that happen. While continuing to watch Sasuke, a voice is heard.

"We have to talk, Uchiha!" the voice states, causing Sasuke and Sakura to look toward the doorway to see Hyuuga Neji braced against the door-facing with a concerned Tenten beside him, her hands on his right shoulder.

(-To Be Continued-)

Ramblings: Well, First chapter ends with a cliffhanger. Okay, I'll be back with the second chapter soon and hopefully it'll be longer. Well, Ja till next time.