This is a shonen-ai fanfiction, meaning there will be boyxboy, or more specifically, SasuNaruSasu. If you do not like this pairing, or are sensitive to homosexual parings, please discontinue reading this at this moment.
This fanfiction will also contain limes as well as character deaths.
Following this story may spoil the manga plotline for Naruto. This contains spoilers from chapter 345 and onwards. Do not read if you do not wish to spoil the later chapters.
As the dust gently fluttered down from their suspension, flittered between the beams of light which escaped from the nearly drawn curtains, and swirled and danced around, black eyes watched them. There was nothing better to do, after all. No, actually, there were other things to do. But this particular boy didn't have to care for right now. After all, tomorrow was…
A soft knock on the somewhat flimsy wooden frame of his room made him look up from his oh-so-entertaining task. He sighed and unclasped his hands, walking over to the door.
"What is it?" he asked, somewhat brusquely.
"Sasuke-sama?" a voice from the outside asked.
No, it's the princess of the moon, idiot. "Yes? What do you want?"
"Itachi-sama wishes for your presence," he replied.
There was a small moment's silence. "I'll be there in a few minutes," Sasuke reported.
The young boy turned around and slid down the side of the door. He crouched on the floor for a while before standing up and getting ready for a visit to his brother. A frown was fixed on his face as he changed.
Uchiha Itachi. Still blood from his own family. But still, Sasuke hated him, feared him, obeyed him… Wasn't it only five or six years ago? When he had returned from his rare lesson outside of the palace? Wasn't it?
Why did it seem so real then? Such images that blurred and sharpened, replayed and fast forwarded, mixed and churned, created dreams and nightmares… All of them. All those scenes, images, memories, senses, and emotions.
Sasuke looked back at himself inside his mirror, confirmed that he looked fine, and walked out of his room. The hallway was rather empty as he strolled down it, his shoes softly treading on the floor. His breath was even and calm, but even as he neared his brother's room, his cool exterior began to chip away slowly.
Every time. Every single time… Each time those equally black eyes gazed at him, Sasuke's world would turn colder than it already is. The things that happened around him? It all stopped, as if the entire universe had halted, just for their existence, side-by-side.
His throat became parched and he could feel a thin film of cold sweat mask his body. Sasuke clenched his hands by his sides slightly to calm himself, but even that did not help. He nodded curtly to the servants whom bowed to him and bade him a good afternoon, none of them noticing how tense he was.
Although his steps were brisk, the walk from his room to Itachi's seemed to be forever. And in that eternity, the massacre flitted through his mind again and again, like it usually did whenever he did not occupy his head with other thoughts.
Kakashi had brought him out of the palace to train that day. He was supposed to learn how to stalk prey properly. But that was only the beginning. Later on, he would have to stalk enemies if it really came to be.
It had been a long, tiring day, and young Sasuke, only seven at the time, was rather eager to go back home. Only a handful of his servants accompanied him that day. He could still remember them. All of them.
Upon reaching the huge gates of the palace, Sasuke hesitated. It seemed rather quiet in there, but that hesitation only last a few seconds before he darted in. He could vaguely hear Kakashi calling out to him to be careful and not to trip, but he paid no heed.
It was a frighteningly long time that Sasuke ran around the palace and did not see anyone. He wanted to see his mom and dad first, so he was running toward their room. But where was everyone? How come there were no servants in the hallways, as it usually is?
But the excited boy could not care less about the servants. He only wished to tell his parents of his adventure with Kakashi. Besides, it was late in the evening already. Perhaps they had retired early today?
"Mother! Father!" he kept calling, his face slick with sweat. His small mouth was shaped into a grin. Only his panting filled the air. He slowed down to a walk when he neared his parents' room.
Shuffling slowly to the room, Sasuke finally realized how strange it was for the palace to be empty like this. Apprehension made him nervous, but Sasuke ignored that and wrenched the flimsy doors open.
His heart clenched as a wretchedly familiar smell wafted out. He knows this smell. The smell that he was accustomed to while hunting. The smell… The smell of blood.
"Mother? Father?" he stepped inside hesitantly, hoping that nothing bad had happened. But the blood… The blood…
It trickled over the floor, splattered on the walls, clung to his shoes, shone in the dark, dripped from hands… Hands that were not his own. Hands that were still warm. Hands that were alive. Itachi's hands. Itachi's eyes, gaze, glare, smirk, laugh…Laugh, mocking laugh…
The laugh that made Sasuke's eyes grow wide and his mouth part slowly. And made him scream, a scream that could not be heard. That made Sasuke's body shake, and his eyes spill with tears. That made Sasuke never forget… Never forget that scene.
And when Kakashi finally caught up with the young boy, Itachi was already gone from the scene. Sasuke had watched him leave, brush by him, laugh at him. He watched him leave.
He remembered being taken away from Kakashi, his face, as usual, covered in a mask, but his eyes clouded over. He remembered being taken away, not into the palace, but somewhere else. Somewhere safe. He remembered the lies that he was told.
"Sasuke-sama… Your family is dead now. Someone attacked your family. They killed everyone. Itachi was away at the time. He is still alive."
Lies. Lies. All lies. All of them. Each one of them, they're lies! They didn't know he saw his brother. Why did they protect him? That man did not deserve to inherit the palace, nor the high title that his father held. He deserved to be dead.
Were they blackmailed? Were they threatened to death and punishment if they said otherwise? Were they? But why? Why?
Uchiha Itachi. Of blood, of family, of kin. Sasuke hated him… Hated him.
He stood outside of Itachi's room. His jaw was tight as he knocked lightly.
"Sasuke-kun, come in."
He did so. He bowed at his brother and slid the door close behind him. Nii-san, is there anything you need from me?"
He didn't answer. Instead, Itachi motioned Sasuke to sit down by him on the cushion. The younger boy grudgingly did so.
"Tomorrow is your thirteenth birthday, correct?" Itachi's smooth voice made Ssauke swallow nervously.
"Then, there is something I'll have to tell you."
Once again, Sasuke nodded.
"According to the rules, all the men of high status, on their thirteenth birthday, must acquire a pet," Itachi explained, as if he expected Sasuke to understand what he meant.
"A pet, nii-san?" Sasuke asked as politely as he could. He was glad to hear that his voice did not shake.
His brother looked at him. "Yes, a pet."
"… A pet as in…?"
The older Uchiha sighed, as though it was a burdening task to explain it to him. "You know of the humanoid pets?"
"Yes. And what of them?"
"That is what you will need to acquire."
Sasuke's eyes lowered from their gaze. "I see. Then we will purchase one tomorrow, right, nii-san?"
"Read up on them and perhaps ask Iruka-sensei for some information on them. Be ready by the time the sun reaches its zenith. I will be waiting for you by the gate, Sasuke-kun," Itachi drawled. The way he said Sasuke's voice was so endearing, it made Sasuke want to vomit. It wasn't right. For him to call his name like that… It simply wasn't right…
This time, when Sasuke spoke, his voice wavered. "Yes, nii-san..."
The older one turned his head away slightly, hiding a small smirk. "Good. You may leave."
"Good bye, nii-san," Sasuke stood up, rather shakily, actually, and bowed again before leaving the room.
Iruka, Sasuke's mentor, hesitated when Sasuke had inquired him to tell him about humanoid pets. It was only a bit of hesitation before he walked over to his wall and drew out several scrolls.
"I see," he had said to him. "It is about time for you to…" and he had trailed off.
Sasuke truly enjoyed his two teachers. Kakshi was responsible for training him in all areas which were related to his physical health, training, and otherwise. And as Kakashi took care of Sasuke's physical health, Iruka took care of his mental 'health'.
Both were his personal tutors, and thankfully, neither of them were present in the massacre that day. But they knew, oh yes, they knew. But they could not say anything about it.
"You see, Sasuke-sama," Iruka said as they sat on a desk, gazing at a few scrolls. He began taking a sip from his tea while he explained. "When a male member of prestigious blood reaches the age of thirteen, they have the obligation of having a pet. Not a regular cat or dog, but a humanoid pet. They serve as a friend, bodyguard, and…" here, Iruka had a coughing fit.
See, that's why you don't drink or eat while talking. You get bad results.
Sasuke waited patiently as his teacher recovered. Once he did, Iruka had a rasping voice, and several times when he tried to speak, he coughed at random intervals. "Sorry, Sasuke-sama," he apologized through some coughing.
The boy shook his head. People choke on tea. That's normal. He glanced over at the scrolls. He presumed that they would give him information about how to raise a 'humanoid pet'. What were they anyway? He had heard they were expensive and rather exotic, but he didn't know any more beyond that.
Iruka cleared his throat, "Sorry, as I was saying, you are required to get a pet. Usually, they stay with his owner until he dies or his owner disowns him, which is usually the case."
Sasuke looked at him with slight shock, though it didn't show upon his face. "Why would you want to disown a pet in which you have raised for so long?"
His teacher's face darkened for a moment. "Sometimes it becomes too hectic to raise a pet. They are needy, dependant creatures, after all. Young boys grow to be men, and men do not always have the time to take care of them. Sometimes… they become bored with them. There are more interesting things than taking care of a pet. There are meetings to attend to and other official and important events…"
That doesn't sound very interesting… Sasuke thought to himself, but kept that comment back. "Then why just the male members? Surely, the females need more protection than a man does."
"That…" Iruka looked at him and looked away again. "That is…" his eyes wandered over to the open window. "Oh… Dear, Sasuke-sama, it's late. You don't want to be tired for tomorrow, do you? It's going to be your birthday, after all! You'd better leave now. Here are some scrolls relating to the care of the humanoid pets. You may want to look over them tonight, but don't stay up that late."
Sasuke took the scrolls silently. He didn't get many questions in. Or rather, Iruka seemed too distracted to answer. Or perhaps he was just avoiding them? No… Iruka would never do something like that. Why would he want to avoid them?
The boy bowed at his teacher before leaving the room silently.
Iruka watched him with heavy, half lidded eyes. An emotion close to remorse was shown, but he only looked away from the door.
"Humanoid pets can learn to speak if taught… though it is not known if…" Sasuke looked up from the scroll and yawned, interrupting his reading aloud. He blinked before returning to the scroll. "…Not known if they have more intelligence than that. It has not been experimented on, and neither is there any study on them now. It is presumed that they are the same as their mute counterparts, and are though to be as dull as they are…"
How absurd. They assume something like that just because they're not human? Ha, maybe I'll experiment on my pet. Maybe he's smarter than a cat or something… Sasuke smirked slightly before continuing.
"These pets highly resemble humans, except for the fact that they bear ears and a tail. They were bred to have tails and ears of familiar animals, such as cats, dogs, etc…"
So what they're saying is that the only difference in humanoid pets is that they have ears and tails? I think a cat would suffice better than that. How stupid. But wouldn't that be strange? Having something that resembles a human as a pet? Somehow it doesn't seem right… Sasuke's thoughts swirled around him as he went on.
"These pets tend to have a high dependency upon their owners, which makes them very hard to raise. However, if raised correctly, they will become lasting friends, as they are able to live as long, or even longer, than humans."
The more I read, the more I feel like I'm going to be buying a person… How bizarre… Sasuke rolled up the scroll and stretched. It's been a while since he was shooed out of Iruka's room. He supposed he didn't want to be tired for tomorrow. Itachi might not be pleased. And heavens know what will happen if he is displeased.
The next day, Sasuke was found two hours earlier than Itachi had asked for him. Better safe than sorry, right? Fine, maybe it was a tad bit too safe, but Sasuke didn't care. As long as he wasn't late, he would be fine.
"Ah, Sasuke-kun," his voice made Sasuke turn around.
He bowed. "Good afternoon, nii-san."
"Good afternoon. Should we get going then? We don't want to be too late for your celebration dinner," Itachi stated and began to walk out of the gates, several servants trailing after him.
Sasuke walked by his side. When they reached their palanquins, he climbed in. The men carried them off. He frequently lifted the cloth from the window to see where they were going, but the route they took was not familiar to him.
It was not a long time before they came to a stop. Sasuke lifted the cloth in front of the palanquin and stepped out. They were in front of a rather nice looking shop.
"This is it, Sasuke-kun…" Itachi said before walking in. He scurried after his brother.
Inside, there were many large, metal cages holding a variety of different pets. They had clothes on, or what could barely pass as clothing. The man who was in charge of the shop immediately scrambled over and bowed many times to them.
"Itachi-sama! We have reserved the shop for you, as you had requested! Please, look around as you please," he said with a grin and he gestured around the shop.
"We would like to see the newest and best shipment of pets you have right now," Itachi said, his voice with the noble indifference dripping from it. Sasuke was doing all he could not to frown. He hated having to act as if he was high and mighty like that, but Itachi seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.
"Yes, of course! Of course," the man said, leading them to another room. This one was notably larger and cleaner. There were fewer cages, and the pets were in better shape than the ones in the main room. "These are all of them."
"Sasuke," the older Uchiha stated. No, it was more like a command.
Sasuke nodded and walked hesitantly into the room. All of the pets looked at him curiously. The sounds of the pets whining and yipping filled the place, but he did not mind. Each and every one of them didn't seem all that great.
Ones with cat ears, dog ears, some sort of exotic large cat mix. He sighed. Was it really necessary? He would much rather be back in his room reading, really. But he guessed that he better pick one out soon, just in order to content Itachi.
Further and further in he walked until he reached the very back of the room. Itachi and the shopkeeper were still standing at the door, watching him expectantly, or so the shopkeeper did anyway. Itachi just sort of stared at him.
Sasuke turned back at the cages and glanced over the pets. All the same… All the same… Brown fur, red fur, spotted, striped, long, short, curly, thick, thin… The young boy's mouth thinned into a line as he looked around.
A loud, obnoxious yip caught his attention. He was taken aback from the devastatingly bright eyes that gazed at him expectantly. He grinned, showing Sasuke exceptionally sharp canines. Selective breeding has removed his whiskers, but there were strange marks on his cheeks.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at him but walked over anyway. He crouched down in front of the fox-looking thing, allowing his robes to fold around him. Sasuke looked at him dully. The creature continued to grin at him. His hair was yellow, absurdly bright yellow, but his ears and tail was tinted with a hint of orange.
The boy stuck his hand in between the cage bars and watched as the fox creature came closer. It tickled when the fox nudged his hand and sniffed it experimentally. Sasuke could see his tail swishing slightly as he investigated him.
He abruptly pulled his hand back when he felt something wet slide over his fingers. That thing had licked him! Sasuke nearly fell back in shock. No one generally touches him, so physical contact with other people, or creatures, was rare. The fox seemed scared at the sudden movement and shrank back, his ears tucked back and soft whining coming from his throat.
The young Uchiha looked up when he heard his brother chuckling. Or rather, pretending to be chuckling. "Well, Sasuke-kun, it's this one then?"
What else could he say to Itachi? He couldn't say no if he had decided already. "Yes, nii-san..." he replied quietly, not really wanting the fox.
"We'll take him," Itachi told the man.
The shopkeeper bobbed his head greedily. "Good choice, good choice," he muttered. "He's about twelve or thirteen years old this year. If you want, we can give you all his information papers…"
Itachi nodded briefly.
The man bobbed his head like a parakeet and went out of the room to calculate the price.
Sasuke sighed silently, still looking at the fox. He really didn't want a pet. There was no reason to own one. Unlike many other children of his age, he never really wanted anything.
Now the fox had recovered, rather quickly, and was curled up on the bottom of the cage, his face partially covered with his tail. His eyes peered at Sasuke curiously. The boy just stared back.
Itachi watched them both. Upon his face, there was a peculiar looking smile.
The man returned with some papers and told Itachi the price of the fox. The money was exchanged and the shopkeeper nodded happily.
"He's a good breed, and already tame. He should be no problem…" he said. From his own robes, the shopkeeper took out a ring full of keys and searched for the right one. It took a while, but eventually, he held up the right key. He requested for Sasuke to step away from the cage for a second as he unlocked it.
Sasuke did as he was told and watched from a few steps away. The man had a collar ready and a short leash so once the door was opened, he quickly put the collar on and clipped on the leash. Once the fox realized that he was allowed to get out, he stretched and stood up on two legs. He seemed tame enough and did not try to bite or scratch at him.
The boy took the leash awkwardly when it was offered to him. It didn't feel quite right to be holding a leash with something that looked so much like a human. He never liked slaves or things like that. Perhaps that is why he never wanted a pet in the first place. He felt as if he had taken away their freedom. All of the servants that were under his command had always had the freedom to go in and out of the palace as much as possible.
He leaned back when the fox began to check out his face. It was… a little too close for his comfort, actually. The fox made small whining sounds all the while, but he was smiling, so Sasuke really had no idea what he wanted.
"Let's go, Sasuke-kun," Itachi called out, still smiling sadistically. His robes skirted the floor as he walked out.
"Okay…" Sasuke called out after him and followed him. He tugged at the leash uncertainly and waited for his new pet to follow. The fox immediately bounded next to him, whining excitedly.
The dark haired boy walked hesitantly, still not feeling quite right. The fox didn't seem to mind, but only walked a bit behind Sasuke. He doubted that if he took off the leash, the fox would still follow him. He learns fast, doesn't he? Already, he knew who his owner would be.
Outside of the shop, Itachi was waiting for the two of them. "Do you want him to follow outside of the palanquin or do you want to get to know him better?"
"Uh… I… I think he can ride with me…" Sasuke said, his voice softer than usual.
"Okay then," Itachi quickly turned away and entered his own palanquin and the cloth was dropped, but Sasuke could catch that weird smile that graced his brother's lips. It made him shudder to think of that smile.
"Come on… Uh… Yeah, I'll give you a name later…" Sasuke told his pet and tugged on the leash again. The fox happily hopped inside the palanquin. Though both were the same age, the fox was about a head and a half smaller than Sasuke. He was small enough to sit on Sasuke's lap rather comfortably. Not like they really had another seating arrangement. The palanquin was only so big, after all.
Sasuke shifted uncomfortably. This was definitely weird. The fox kept poking his face around and sniffed him, just to get used to his scent. Several times, Sasuke nearly screamed in shock because the fox kept licking him on the neck and face. By the time they reached the palace again, however, Sasuke was accustomed to it.
"Sasuke-kun, why… Do you have a fever? You look awfully red there…" Itachi teased and laughed humorlessly before walking away again, leaving Sasuke with his pet.
Oh. It is going to be such a fun time. Such. A. Fun. Time.
Notes: Palanquin, huh? Do you know what it is? Well, Google it or something, because I really have no idea how to describe it to you.