First of all I would like to say that I absolutely can't believe that I haven't updated for two years! Time flew by so fast. Damn.

Chapter 4

It was around three in the afternoon and the house was quiet when Sai returned home. Having discovered their mother absent from the kitchen and the living room he concluded that she was either out shopping or visiting the neighbors. Since their father was still at his workplace and Itachi won't be coming home for another day, that left him alone in the house with Sasuke.

Now where was his little sister, he wondered to himself as he poked his head in the rooms on the lower floor.

She'd been acting unfavorably as of late, her exploit at the Hokage's office has been the hot topic of the village the past few days and exceedingly frowned upon, particularly by their elder relatives. And considering her recent misbehavior with their father it probably won't be long before she'd be personally chastised by the council of elders.

Most of the younger Uchihas support her decision though, since there was nothing particularly wrong about wanting to partake in the jounin exam. But the exam would not be easy. She had the resolve, but did she have the skills to succeed?

And there was that one issue he kept setting aside. He tells himself time and time again that she was in a rebellious age, and this new Sasuke was simply a phase that would fade away given the right time and proper guidance.

And yet something about this Sasuke seemed different. In a span of a day she had changed from a smiling, affectionate, and well-mannered sister and daughter, to a frequently frowning, unsociable girl that gave no concerns for her insolence towards other people. She regularly brooded over things unknown to them and there was always a little crease between her eyebrows.

This person was no longer the sister who would silently watch over his shoulder as he drew or sketched, and she hadn't been waiting for their brother to come home from his missions. She never talked about her day during dinner, rather she rudely talked back to their father, which she had done before occasionally, except this time it was no longer an indignant, childish tantrum.

There was an anger and unncertainty in the way she looked at the world. He could see it in her eyes. Whenever she entered a room she kept a large physical distance and an air of awkwardness wrapped around her.

Something had changed. Maybe something had happened during her mission.

Or maybe he was just thinking too much. Perhaps this was just a phase that would dwindle away in time with proper guidance. Perhaps it was a childish attempt to get attention. That must be it.

Sauntering back to the front door to put on his sandals, Sai proceeded to devise a plan to bring his sister back in character with the aid of a basket full of red tomatoes.

The walk through the village eased her mind somewhat. The atmosphere at her house was stifling, her connection with her family was strained and their interaction was awkward on her part. The change of scenery was a delight and Sasuke took it all in with new eyes. She was surprised at some of the changes and equally amazed at what remained unchanged. She hadn't been around these place since she was twelve after all.

At that thought, she froze in mid-step. She wasn't sure anymore. It didn't feel like she hadn't been away for long, and yet at the same time it did. There was only one reality. It was either this one or the other. She'd concluded earlier that the other one had been a very long nightmare, but it felt so real. A dream should not feel so real, and surely not she would not remember it so vividly.

There was no other rational explanation. She was probably just confusing a dream and mistakenly identifying everything that she'd seen as actual events. That must be it. Anything else would be completely ridiculous. It had been a long dream. Indeed it was long, it was one lifetime full.

When she awoke from it she recalled that she was dying. Or did she die? Was this the afterlife? What had happend before she died? She couldn't recall clearly. It was raining heavily, and she was out in it for some reason. Itachi had been ther with her. They'd been fighting. No, she had her sword in her hand, and then he was on the ground, and then...

Then what?

Everything was spinning all of a sudden. Every step she took felt like she was lurching on unstable ground. She felt her limbs grow weak, and the sensation of falling…

A hand grabbed onto her upper arm.

"Are you alright?" The voice was familiar. She turned around to meet his pale eyes. Hyuuga Neji, familiar character from her dream, together with the frowning mouth, and expressionless mien. They hadn't officially met in this reality. But she'd seen him before. She must have. Not in the dream. Yes. Everything was just a dream.

No! It's not a dream! A voice screamed in her head. And suddenly the dizziness disappeared and she felt wide awake.

Neji's aura gave off a surprised recognition as he stared at her, and instantly the air between them turned almost malicious. A clash of character between them that they could not explain occurred instantly. A feeling one gave the other and vice versa, that they would not get along.

Their bodiesvery still, hardly breathing, pale eyes stared boldly, carefully at the dark, equally-unflinching eyes.

"Sasuke, aren't you supposed to be grounded?" The voice cut through the pribate bubble they were in. Hostile gazes broke apart, and the grip on her arm loosened then disappeared altogether. Sasuke turned to Obito's approaching figure. Kakashi, was following half a step behind him and he met her gaze with his one grey eye, bearing an expression she could not figure out.

"Hello. Who's this, Sasuke, your boyfriend?" The comment immediately earned Obito two pairs of wide and then murderous glances, before going back to severely scrutinize each other once more. Whether the older Uchiha ignored the obvious unfriendliness of his young cousin and her companion, or perhaps he did not notice at all, none of the other three cared.

Fearlessly, Obito interrupted the glaring contest for the second time by grabbing Sasuke by the waist and hoisting her over his right shoulder, ignoring the angry protests of her arms and legs. He looked back at Neji.

"Sorry, kid. She's currently under house arrest. If you want to see her you can drop by the Uchiha residences anytime. I warn you though, we're not giving her away easily."

Neji watched them leave until he could no longer see them. In his mind lingered the indelible confrontation between him and Uchiha Sasuke.

The world was dark, warm, and soft, and the air at her face was cool. The rain poured, lightly tapping the window and it was the first thing Sasuke heard and became aware of beside the door sliding open and deep murmuring voices when her mind woke up. Floating thoughts came together in a brilliant moment of consciousness. Her hand twitched and the voices stopped.

"Sasuke?" She wished she couldn't hear him. She wished she was somewhere else, training perhaps on an empty field, or out on a mission spying for targets. But there weren't any missions that were assigned to her nor were there any she wanted. She wasn't feeling well either, and so went back to sleep with hopes of getting rid of the throbbing headache that had hounded her since the day before.

"I know you're awake." She attempted to pretend that this was all just a strange dream. She wished it had been anything but a situation she couldn't ignore… but it wasn't, no matter how much she wanted it to be. Itachi's voice was still the same in sound, tone, manner.

Slowly and warily, she pulled herself into a sitting position with her body vaguely sore and stiff and the warm blankets slid away. She couldn't help but look toward her door where her brothers lingered just outside to wake her from the obviously-long slumber.

The bedside clock read 11:46, which she usually spent on training back at Orochimaru's hideouts- or headquarters, as Kabuto always insisted. Recollections of the musty smell of damp, underground cavern walls, the glowing torches that never offered enough warmth, shrill screams that had taken her a while to get used to that rang through the halls at night, they were all fresh in her mind.

Yet, there was no mark to attest her betrayal to the village.

She unconsciously gripped the area where the mark used to be, feeling the pain yet not aware of her actions. She must have looked angry, perhaps even pained. She did not realize the wound she caused until Sai grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away.

"What are you doing?" He looked angry but at the same time he didn't. She could not read him, only sensed the emotions that slipped out of his usually perfect control. She felt her blood trickle liquid warmth down her back and the side of her breast and she looked down to see it seeping to the fabric of her sleeping kimono.

As he approached them, Itachi watched her too. Their black gazes were impassive and smoldering and Sasuke never lifted her eyes to meet theirs. She wasn't ashamed, she was not afraid. She just didn't want to look at them. It was too painfull and confusing and she didn't know what to do.

Sai loosened his grip and let out a breath of what could've been annoyance, but she couldn't be sure. She wouldn't talk, he knew that much. Itachi already stepped out to fetch a first aid kit as her other brother inspected the self-inflicted would she distractedly caused.

Sasuke remained as she was on her bed, hardly shifting as her brothers nursed the bloody crescent marks on her shoulder. She did not speak a word as Itachi led her by the hand down the stairs to the dining room where she nibbled on lunch she could hardly taste. Both brothers disappeared quickly after hastily eating and their mother was nowhere to be seen. Their father she'd never caught a glimpse of ever since the argument.

And then it dawned on her, why did her brothers wake her up together? It seemed like they were there together with some purpose but the incident distracted her and she had forgotten to question them. They said nothing to her either before they left.

And then there was yesterday. It had been an eventful day: sightseeing, a face-off with Neji, and a scolding from her loudmouth cousin Obito as he brought her home on his shoulder. It did not get better once they arrived.

Itachi, who had arrived earlier than expected, and Sai, who had been looking for her, had waited for her arrival. Their expressions were completely closed off. She realized they were angry and it dawned on her that she could sense it so perfectly for the first time. After that was a two-hour lecture about manners, obedience, and responsibilities among other things by the three older Uchihas, while Kakashi silently witnessed everything in the corner, concealing his interest with Icha Icha Paradise Volume 17.

Nearing the end of their sermon she had been presented with a large wicker basket full of ripe, juicy tomatoes, and they had been expecting her to run and hug them cheerfully like a happily bribed child, which of course, did not happen. She did accept the offering, although the mood between them definitely did not become any better.

Sighing tiredly, Sasuke left for her room to change, intending to train for the rest of day despite the throbbing signs of an oncoming headache.

Whenever I write a fem Sasuke fic I always think about confrontations with Neji, love scenes with Neji, etc. It is almost always Neji with Sasuke in my mind. I guess my favorite fem Sasuke pairing is with Neji.

But it doesn't mean that that would be the pairing.