Epilogue: Crime and Punishment

It was agonising, unbearable. Sasuke had been ready for his punishment, but not this.

It was unspeakable.

He closed his eyes to cut out the horror before him.

There was a whoosh of air and something wet landed on his sandaled foot.

One onyx eye opened reluctantly, casting its gaze down, fearful of what it would find.

The raven-haired boy trembled.

There was a partially used tissue covering most of his foot.

"Gomen sensei!", the boy the offending paper product belonged to, rushed forward from the group of ten year old shinobi wannabes, his face blushing up a storm as his peers sniggered at the unfortunate lad.

Sasuke momentarily considered leaving Konoha a second time, but Sakura had made it clear after his sentencing she wouldn't offer to go with him this time, no matter how the circumstances might have changed, she had responsibilities to her station now…as did he.

The trial had been a surprise and an outrage from the word go. He and Sakura had been apprehended the moment they returned and it had taken a lot of will power not to reduce the insolent fools who had tried to separate him from Sakura to dust with the power of the seal.

He had instead relied on a subtler method, if a death glare that threatens bladder integrity can be considered subtle.

The issue had resolved itself when Tsunade had given Sakura special permission to sit in on the proceedings.

Sasuke allowed himself the ghost of a smile, unaware of how it made his students shiver.

As it turned out, that would be far from the last thing the fifth did to annoy the council during the course of his sentencing.

She had started by announcing without debate that he would not be executed for any crimes past or present. That declaration had left the elderly advisors to the Hokage sputtering angrily about laws and discipline, to which Tsunade had yawned and poignantly ignored them.

She had however sentenced him to something much worse in the young Uchiha's eyes. She had banded him from performing any high level jutsu for a probationary period, and had also signed him up as the instructor for the remedial students at the academy.

Sasuke Uchiha, one of Konoha's most talented and powerful ninja, instructing those one step from becoming dropouts.

It was infuriating.

Tsunade had calmly explained to him that his defection had been in part do to his arrogance, and as such, teaching those not blessed with raw talent or bloodlimits like Sharingan, would serve to repair some of his character flaws.

It had been Sakura's pleading luck that had finally got him to nod his head in consent, even after he had been threatened with a return of the original punishment.

Thus here he was, fighting a mild migraine after spending six hours teaching his pupils to throw straight. If he was lucky they might eventually move onto shruiken or kunai before the end of the month rather than the small stones they were currently using.

"Mmmm, Oni-san", he turned a glacial gaze on the child who had called out, Mai something-or-other. If he was going to teach them he didn't want them getting overly chummy with him, which would just hinder their progress.

Rather than cowering or apologising the little red haired girl blushed fiercely and began playing with her hair.

Sasuke sighed. Why was it that females, no matter the age, seemed immune to the glares and pointed glances, which struck fear into their male counterparts?

"Sasuke-kun, oh, gomen, I mean Uchiha-sensei", Sakura had been watching him and his class since her shift finished though she had only just revealed her presence.

She chuckled as he stared at her frostily over his shoulder, she knew he didn't like her encouraging the children by acting overly friendly toward him but they were just so cute the way they trailed after him, shouting "Oni-san! Oni-san!".

"Oh, don't mind him", she said, squatting down in front of the nearest row of hopefuls and smiling reassuringly, "He may look mean, and have trouble expressing himself, but deep down he's a really nice person".

Sasuke smiled as he folded his arms, trying to seem disinterested.

His mother had once told him the same thing about his father.

"Is Onee-chan, Oni-san's bride", a voice called up from the back of the group.

Mai again.

"B-bride?", Sakura stuttered, blushing almost as much as the red haired girl had, making sure she didn't look at Sasuke despite how badly she wanted to see his reaction, until her face had returned to normal.

"No", Sasuke's simple statement made her breath catch and she almost demanded to know why he had answered so definitively right then and there.

"But I suppose there is still time", that brought back her blush and had the children chattering excitedly amongst themselves, all except little Mai who's friends seemed to be trying to comfort her.

Sakura stood as the students began bombarding her with questions, a shy smile on her face as she looked at Sasuke.

While the dark haired boy rounded them up with a single command and gave her his farewell with an almost flippant wave of the hand, she continued to smile.

Some things change, some things stay the same, but Sakura would always love him, be it as his girlfriend, or one day…

---Author Notes---

There we go, all done, hope you all enjoyed it despite the rather short nature of the piece. There may be a sequel, but if so it shall not be written by me. More info on that as I have it.

Feel free to check out my other work and comment, I'd especially recommend the Blademasters series.

Till next time, Betweenheavenandhell