Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

I decided I didn't like the stories where Sasuke was put under house arrest instead of given the death penalty, sooo yeah :grin: Here's my take on the whole scenerio.

A group of eight ANBU walked together in circle down the hallway leading to the Hokage's office. In each of their hands was a dark brown, leather leash that led to the center of their formation, all connected to a pitch black collar that was slung around a pale neck. The shorter, male figure within the spread out group was wearing a snow white yukata that was too big for his body, the obi tight around his dangerously thin waist. On his head was a white cloth that covered his face and eyes from the sights surrounding him, to show him what death would be like.

As they approached two large, dark gold doors, one of the ANBU glanced at the boy with her face hidden behind a tanuki mask, the painted lips curled up in a mocking smile. She commanded the rest of her colleagues to sever the leashes and they did as they were ordered to, using a sudden surge of their chakra to snap the restraints from the collar.

"You will be brought before the Hokage and you will receive your punishment for the crimes you have committed," the unknown woman told the prisoner. "Know now that the collar around your neck prevents you from using your chakra, so do not get any idiotic ideas in your head."

The male remained motionless in the center of the group, his hands chained behind him, cutting at his pale skin. As the tall doors opened, he continued to stay still until a frightened voice called him into the room. It was Shizune, the dark-haired assistant clutching her pig, Ton-Ton, close to her chest. She watched the figure step inside, her eyes ever so watchful.

Tsunade sat behind her desk, fingers laced together and propping her chin up. Her waxed eyebrows lowered in pent up anger as the man stood before her, memories of what that very same being had done to Naruto flooding her mind. She lowered her hands and her lips twisted into a scowl, hazel eyes becoming narrowed in response to the silence of the room.

"Uchiha Sasuke," she almost spat.

Sasuke remained silent.

"The only reason you're here is because Naruto asked me to hear you out," Tsunade snarled. "But I'm sure even he knows that nothing you say will make your punishment any less severe. So to make this go by faster, since I have more important matters to attend to, how about you start giving me reasons as to why I shouldn't give you the death penalty?"

Shizune glanced back and forth between the avenger and her beloved Hokage, waiting for the raven to make a move and speak. But nothing came from him.

He said absolutely nothing.

Tsunade scoffed. "Nothing to say? I'm not surprised. You know, if you would have returned after killing Orochimaru, then your punishment wouldn't have been so harsh. Unfortunately, you decided to go after your brother and attempted to slaughter quite a few of this village's shinobi in the process. For that, you are being sentenced to death. The date will be set for tomorrow before dawn. You are dismissed," she said coldly.

Tsunade's assistant sighed sadly at the results, but nodded to herself and called for the ANBU who were waiting out in the hallway. She always knew death was what awaited the return of Sasuke, but she felt her heart swell for her favorite blond ninja, Naruto. How would he take the news?

Sasuke let the ANBU reconnect the leashes to his collar and he followed them out of the room, still as silent as when he had entered, the cloth over his face swaying back and forth.

----------

Blue eyes opened slowly, the large pupils retracting to the light coming through the open window. The sun was blocked by the figure of a pink-haired kunoichi, though, her smile just as bright as the molten star. She tucked a lock of short hair behind her ear and greeted her friend with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"How are you feeling, Naruto?" Sakura asked in a whisper, her fingers running over his bandaged chest in order to check for any leaking chakra pathways in his body. She heard him groan and she let her emerald eyes shift upward to his face.

His nose was scrunched in discomfort and he shifted on the hospital bed, bandages all over his body. He gritted his teeth as a jolt of pain ran up his spine, but he laughed weakly as it subsided, his blond hair a tangled mess that was flung about in every direction on the soft, white pillow.

"N-Never better," he lied, grinning. Suddenly, something seemed to pop into his head and his cerulean eyes widened considerably, filled with fear and anxiety. "S-Sakura-chan, where's Sasuke?" he asked, sitting up abruptly, ignoring his aching muscles. Kyuubi would have everything healed within the hour if he was lucky.

The medical nin stared at him, then looked away, the silence that had fallen between them almost unbearable.

"Where's Sasuke?" he repeated.

"Naruto... I'm really sorry. Tsunade-sama gave him the chance to explain himself, but..." her eyes watered just a bit, enough to freeze Naruto's furiously beating heart. "He refused to say anything... So he's been sentenced to death, tomorrow morning..."

Naruto's hands clenched into fists on his lap, his head slowly lowering until his dirty bangs hung over his eyes and ears. His shoulders shook, but Sakura didn't know if it was from anger or sadness. Then the faint sound of laughter could be heard, Naruto's head flying back to reveal a grinning face. He was smiling, but his tightly closed eyes were damp with unshed tears.

"That's just like that teme," he laughed again, the sound full of despair and anguish. "Even after I reach my goal of saving him, he turns that accomplishment into a complete failure be letting himself be killed...!" his grin faded into a smile, bit it was unstable, the corners of his lips twitching. "And all of that training, all of those times my teammates and I were almost killed... all of that would be for nothing!"

Sakura wiped at her eyes and approached her comrade, wrapping her arms around him in a comforting, motherly manner. She knew that all of those words were hiding his real anger and fears...

He just didn't want to lose his best friend.

----------

Sasuke sat alone in the spacious cell at the bottom of the Hokage Tower, his legs folded as he sat on the cold, stone ground. He was leaning against the far wall, the cloth gone from his face to reveal permanent Sharingan that were a result from his final battle with Itachi. The weasel had been slaughtered, along with Kisame, and Sasuke had then split up with the members of Hebi. He'd then been found by Naruto, Yamato, and Sai while they'd been on a random mission to the Tea Country. It had been a coincidental meeting and instead of a battle to the death, Sasuke had willingly given up his freedom to them.

After defeating Itachi, he really had no further reason to remain a missing nin.

The smell of rust was strong in the cell and he let his impassive expression slip for a mere second out of disgust. He slaughtered many people and the pungent aroma of blood had become a natural scent to his nose, but when he had let himself be dragged back to his home village, he'd done it while expecting the only smell of death to be his. He didn't want to smell it before dying, he only wanted to smell nothing but the cold darkness of his prison.

Glancing up, bored, when the heavy door to his cell opened, Sasuke watched the outline of a slender figure approach the metal bars, the scent of melon reaching his nose. He preferred it over the rust.

"Sasuke-kun," Sakura's voice reached him. "I brought you a bento box that my mom made," her voice held a slight smile, as if she'd forgotten all of the horrible things he had done. As if she'd forgotten the night when he'd left her behind, rejecting her confession of love and adoration. "You remember her cooking, ne? I would give you one of these every day when we would train with Kakashi-sensei...though you rejected them most of the time," she laughed.

"What are you here?" his voice wasn't cold or rude, just devoid of emotion.

Sakura sighed and walked over to the unlit lantern that was hanging from the wall by the silver bars. She accumulated chakra to her fingertips and watched as the glass box was filled with a blue flame, her lips lifting upward as Sasuke's sharp features were drawn out of the darkness.

"Despite what you did to me..." she shook her head. "No, despite what you did to Naruto, you're still my teammate and friend. I can't abandon my friends, especially when they only have a limited amount of time left..." she pushed her arm through the bars and held out the food, hoping he would take it.

Sasuke stared at the box, then glanced away, focusing his attention on the wall to his right. "Go away, Sakura. The only person I wish to see right now is Naruto."

The kunoichi retracted her arm slowly and actually smiled brighter than before. "Then I'll go get him. He's at Ichiraku's, since Tsunade-sama wouldn't let him come down to see you. But I'll sneak him down here, alright?"

Sasuke didn't respond.

----------

Naruto stared at the metal door that would lead him to Sasuke, to his best friend, to his other half...

He wasn't sure if he could handle seeing him, because in just one day the raven would be gone again. Permanently.

"Naruto, he specifically asked for you," Sakura tried to comfort him. "You have until five in the morning to talk with him, so spend that time wisely, ok?" she pulled the door open for him and the blond was met with darkness. "You won't be able to see him during his execution..."

"I know," the shinobi stepped into the room and stared at the flickering lantern as his friend closed the door behind him, the sound of dripping water filling his ears. He felt his stomach flip uncomfortably when he saw the Uchiha's face far beyond the cell bars, Sharingan bright and intimidating. He felt as if Sasuke was peering right into his soul.

He wanted to speak, but his words died in his throat, slightly afraid that he would be engulfed in a world of illusions. But he breathed out slowly when he realized the wheels in those incarnadine orbs were separated from each other, not like Itachi's. Moving one foot forward, he made his way to the bars that were a barrier between him and his ex-best friend.

Ex-best friend... It left a bitter taste in his mouth as he mouthed it, his large hands reaching forward, long fingers curling around the rusted bars. He smiled faintly, remembering a time that never happened, where a young Uchiha Sasuke would have growled and grumbled about being in a cage like a feral beast.

"Naruto."

A shiver went up the blond's spine and he felt completely stupid for being fearful of the pale man in front of him. What could he do to him, now that his chakra was subdued? Nothing at all. But somewhere deep inside of him, hope flickered. He somewhat wanted Sasuke to escape, so that he wouldn't have to die.

"Sasuke," he spoke the man's name, nostalgia creeping up on him. He quickly distracted his mind from the mental pictures of the old Team 7. "I trained so hard, so I could bring you back to Konoha... Now you're finally here and all I want to do is use my skills to get you back out," his smile was crooked. "The death penalty--"

"Is what I deserve," the raven spoke calmly, almost without emotion. But there was a flicker of something in his deep voice. "I knew what my punishment would be once I slaughtered Orochimaru and went after my brother. It is my own fault. I chose this fate."

Naruto gritted his teeth in a sudden wave of nausea and anger. How could he accept death so easily?

"You're not even going to try to escape?" he ground out, his heart thumping in his chest.

Sasuke's face was blank. "No. Why would I? I attempted to kill my old companions, killed innocent people on my journey to find Itachi... I deserve this," he frowned. "I asked you here so we could talk about something else, not this."

Naruto sighed and slid to the floor, not caring about how cold the stone was. He crossed his legs and leaned forward, pressing his mature face against the cool bars, attempting to get closer to the ninja. He didn't understand why he wanted Sasuke to escape, when all he'd wanted for the last few years was to being him home. He clearly couldn't ever make up his mind.

"Sure... What did you want to talk about?" Everything was getting so casual.

Sasuke shifted slightly, his bangs fluttering over his eyes for a moment. "I don't have that much time left," he mumbled softly. "So I wish to speak to you as if you were my best friend again. I owe you that much, don't I?"

Naruto's breath hitched and he furrowed his brows, scrunching his nose up a bit. Sasuke wanted to act as if they were best friends again. It was easier said than done, but... he wouldn't deny the fact that he wanted that more than anything. To become close to Sasuke again, to know his thoughts, to be able to understand him again. He felt his heart thump painfully in his chest and he clutched at the fabric just below his collarbone. He wanted more than just friendship, but that would never happen. Not now.

"Wh...what if I don't want to talk like friends?" he grumbled, lying to himself. He wanted more than that. He wanted to talk to him like they were lovers, talk about their future. But Sasuke had no future. At least, not one that was happy.

The other man's face remained blank, the frown still in place though. The sides of his pink lips twitched upward and he smirked. It was so similar to the one he gave Naruto when they were kids, whenever he accomplished something. The memories were almost too much.

"Then think of it as a last request. My final wish."

Naruto swallowed. "That's a stupid request... If I were you, I'd ask to live."

That brought a chuckle from the prisoner. His shoulders shook gently, to match his velvety laugh. It was youthful, yet dark. Even so, it made Naruto grin. Yes, everything was getting too casual. All of the years they spent fighting and chasing one another seemed to have disappeared, forgotten.

"Living is not important to me at the moment. Tell me, how close are you to becoming the Hokage? You still hold that silly dream, do you not?" the way he spoke was to proper.

The bright shinobi grinned wider, baring his sharp canines. "I'm Chuunin now. I would probably be part of the ANBU or a Jounin by now if I'd stayed in the village long enough for the Elders to watch my progress. But I've been too busy chasing your ass everywhere. Hmm, now that I think about it, you're still a Genin, aren't you?"

Sasuke snorted. "Hn."

God, Naruto had missed that.

"Technically, yes. But if we're speaking of abilities and skill, then I would surely be a Jounin," Sasuke explained. His voice took on a little edge of emotion, no longer monotone. They were talking as if they were best friends again, their words teasing and playful.

"I wish we could become Jounin together..." Naruto whispered loud enough for the other to hear. "To work with you on missions again and to kick bad guy ass... I'd be just like old times," he grinned again. "Hey, do you remember when we fought against Haku?"

Sasuke nodded shallowly. "You weren't much help. I had to do almost all of the work myself."

"Che, yeah right, Teme!" he unconsciously used the old nickname. But he smiled and laughed. "Oh, and the Chuunin exams..." he thought back on those days, wincing as he remembered the mark on his friend's neck. He idly wondered if it was still there. He glanced at the junction between the neck and shoulder, but the collar of the yukata hid the spot well. "That was when everything started falling apart, wasn't it?" he couldn't find a very good memory of that time. Not one that included Sasuke, anyway.

"No, everything began to crumble when you became stronger than me."

Naruto's cerulean eyes flashed upward and he stared into blood red eyes. His smile was strained and he cleared his throat, changing the subject again so that he could erase the tense mood that had just suddenly flooded into the cold and damp cell. He wanted the warm and friendly atmosphere back. It was wrong to just go back to their relationship they'd had after everything that'd happened, but he couldn't help himself. He was selfish and he wanted as much attention from Sasuke as he could get.

"Did you find a girlfriend while you were wandering the countryside?" the question slipped from his lips before he could stop himself. He laughed nervously in embarrassment. "Sorry, that just slipped out..."

Sasuke snorted again. "No, I did not. Women are stupid creatures."

"... Then did you find a boyfriend?"

Sharingan glared at him from underneath thick lashes. "I found no one. I wasn't in search for a bad partner, Dobe, I was searching for Itachi."

Naruto smiled at the nickname. "Ok, I gotcha. So... what happened with Itachi? Did you kill him?" he blinked slowly when his ex-comrade nodded and he laughed. "Good. Then I don't have to worry about him trying to steal Kyuubi again, since he and the rest of the Akatsuki are gone."

Sasuke remained silent for a moment, then shifted. He stood slowly and stalked forward with a grace that reminded me of a feline. His footsteps were silent.

"You've grown again," he grumbled, almost annoyed. He was at least two inches shorter than the blond shinobi now, his frame also slimmer. He didn't have the muslces on his frame that Naruto had.

"Heh, yeah. I'm a good 6'0'' now," he stared at Sasuke's pale face, finally noticing the deep purple bags under his exotic eyes. Even with them, the raven was attractive. He held down his emotions and snickered. "Now who's the chibi?"

"I don't recall ever telling you that you were a chibi."

"You didn't."

"Hn, Usuratonkachi," his voice was dead.

That was when Naruto realized it.

Sasuke... he didn't care at all. He wasn't interested in their past together, in Naruto's dreams, in anything any of their old friends were up to. He'd schooled his face, masked his voice, and said everything he was sure the future Hokage wanted to hear. He feigned interest, pretending he cared.

Those red eyes... they were dead. There was nothing there. He'd noticed that when Sasuke had gotten closer.

He was acting, playing the part that he believed would satisfy the blond. It wasn't out of spite or hate. He did it because he believed it was the least he could do for all the trouble he'd caused Naruto. But the fact still remained...

He didn't care. Not one bit.

"You really did cut the thread that connected us..."

Sasuke raised a brow, his ears not able to pick up the words that were too low. "What?"

"N-nothing," his smile was forced now, pain swelling behind his eyes. His heart ached and lurched inside of his chest, but he refused to voice his revelation. It was better to play along and pretend their friendship was still there. He wanted nothing more than to be wrong. But it was hard, when the truth was right there in front of him. "So, do you think you could ever accept Sakura-chan's feelings?" he wiggled his brows, the pain still throbbing.

Sasuke scowled. It was fake, but it could fool anyone. It had fooled Naruto in the beginning.

"Absolutely not. She's nothing more than an old friend."

Lies. All lies.

And they spent the next few hours talking, each one of them fooling the other, every expression fake and strained. They laughed and relived memories, but while the flashbacks were meaningful to one, they were nothing to the other. It stayed like that until Sakura returned, her pink hair almost purple in the late night air.

"Naruto, your time's up," he said sadly. "The ANBU are coming for Sasuke-kun now. They should be here within five minutes."

Naruto stood up, his eyes holding Sasuke's. Nothing. They were still dead.

"Good-bye," Sasuke told him.

Swallowing thickly, the taller male nodded. He wondered how Sasuke could be so good with faking his feelings. But even though he knew the other was faking everything... it hurt to pull his eyes away from him. Sasuke may have severed their bond, but he...

He clutched something invisible to his chest.

...he held the invisible string in his hand, hoping he could reconnect it somehow...

"Bye," he muttered back and quickly left with Sakura, his eyes burning. He grabbed the girls hand as they left, sneaking away from the Hokage tower without being noticed by the arriving ANBU. As she tried to walk away, she was tugged back. Turning, she pursed her lips together.

"What's wrong?"

"I want to see them take him from the cell. So I know... all of this is real. That I'm not under some illusion his Sharingan put me under or something..." he tightened his fingers around her hand and bit the inside of his cheek.

The pink-haired kunoichi smiled softly and took his hand in both of hers, running her fingers over his large palm. They only had to wait a moment before the ANBU emerged from the dark cell, their hands holding the same leashes that had been in their grasps earlier. It was so dark out now, but soon the sun would rise and along with it would come Sasuke's death.

Sasuke was in the center of them, the cloth over his head and face again, his arms tied behind his back.

Naruto looked away and pulled Sakura away, back down the street they were on. He knew it was all real.

"Naruto," her voice was like honey. "How were your final hours with him?" she sounded so hopeful, as if she expected those few hours to heal their broken relationship. Well, they almost had, until he realized what Sasuke was doing.

"They were good... I'll miss him," it wasn't a lie. He really would. But why was his voice so... dull?

He looked up at the sky as it began turning a lighter shade of black. The sun was going to peak over the mountains soon and then Sasuke would be gone for good...

----------

The Elders were at the execution site, along with Tsunade and all of the Jounin and Chuunin who cared enough to see the last Uchiha fall. Kakashi was in the small crowd, looking a bit distraught and upset. Sasuke had been his student, after all. One of his favorites. Gai-sensei was there, too, along with Kurenai, Jiraiya, and Iruka. The dark male was on the verge of tears, never having been a strong-minded person. All of his students were like his children, and no parent ever wanted to bury their own child.

None of the Rookie Nine were there, for they didn't want to witness the death of one of their own. They'd decided that if Naruto didn't want to go, then they wouldn't either.

The ANBU took Sasuke to the center of platform that was at the very top of the Hokage Tower. It was the very same place where Tsunade had announced to the village that she would be the next Hokage. He stood motionless, his head straight, waiting.

Tsunade had her hands behind her back as she frowned at the shinobi. Stepping toward him, she came to a halt at his side.

The cool breeze of the arriving morning made everyone shiver except for her and Sasuke, the moment too tense. She let her hazel eyes wander to his neck and she sighed.

"Uchiha Sasuke, the date of your execution has arrived. You have only a few moments left, so would you like to say anything? Your old teachers are here to witness your death."

Sasuke didn't move at all. "No."

She frowned. "Alright then," she reached up and placed her fingers on his cold neck. As she did that, the sun rose up over the Hokage mountains and the raven felt the warmth of the sun on his skin. She pressed the tips of her fingers into his flesh and all he felt was the severing of his chakra pathways in all parts of his body, his eyes unfocused underneath the cloth. Then the pathways to his brain were cut and everything went black, his body falling backward.

Tsunade caught him as he fell, his back arching across her arm, the cloth falling from his shut eyes, his body limp and lifeless. The material fluttered away in the wind and traveled across the village.

Iruka choked on a sob and Kakashi comforted him with a strong hand on the man's shoulder. He looked away and winced.

"Sasuke..." he whispered.

----------

Naruto watched the cloth fly overhead, twisting and jerking with the changing of the wind. But when it flew in front of the sun, the blond shut his eyes tightly and looked away. Beside him, Sakura's shoulders shook as she cried softly, whispering prayers for their ex-teammate. There was the sound of people coming out of their homes to go to work and Naruto pulled Sakura against him, feeling the same sadness inside of him.

And even with all of the pain and the loss of Sasuke, the sun still shined, undaunted and brilliant.