A/N: I'd like to take the time to give a little warning. Since this story follows the actual Naruto plot (with little twist here and there) I might start to slow down so I can think along the lines of the manga. But for now I do have about three or so chapters planed out, so if I start slowing down after my third update that's why. Thanks for all the reviews!

Chapter XIV

I hear the rustling of bed sheets behind me, but do not turn away from my work to look over my shoulder. Itachi must be waking up.

"Sasuke?" My older brother's sleepy voice calls out to me.


"What are you doing?" Itachi questions me, brushing his loose hair out of his face.

"Putting a lock on our door." I explain screwing in the last screw of the lock.

"I'm sure you friend will be rather upset to hear that." Itachi says emotionlessly, however it's hard not to realize that the statement was meant as a joke.

"Yeah well, she can go find some other brothers to watch." I mutter out with bitterness.

"How many brothers have our kind of relationship?" I feel arms wrap around me. I hadn't even heard Itachi get out of bed, let alone approach me. I relax into my brother's embrace.

"The Hokage wants to speak with you again today." I tell him emotionlessly. Itachi nods and lets his arms slip from my shoulders. "I'll go get you clothes for today." I tell him.

"I'd like to take a bath before getting dressed." Itachi gets to his feet. Hand trailing against the wall as he walks towards the bathroom.

"That's fine." I tell him taking out one of his outfits from an old dresser left behind by my parents. Before Itachi enters the bathroom, and place the silk clothing into his hands. He takes them and disappears, soon followed by the sound of running water.

"I have a lot I want to discuss with your brother. There's no reason for you to stay here for so long. You may leave and come back for him in an hour." Tsunade explains kindly. However her soft voice does nothing to ease the deep frown clinging to my face. I know I should be thankful for the shelter that Konoha has provided so far from Madara. I haven't heard or seen him, I doubt he would show his face here. However I can't help but feel used. Yes Itachi agreed to help, and yes it seems like a fair bargain. However…I suppose I feel a little overly protective of my brother, and I don't want to leave him alone. Maybe because I don't know what him and Tsunade talk about, or maybe just the fact that's I'll be away from him. I've been so distant with my brother for years, I want to make up for lost time, even these little moments when Tsunade speaks with him in private, seem to take away from my time spent with him. It's ridiculous and childish, I know, however I can't help but feel uneasy.

In the end I nod to the blond woman, giving my brother one last glance before excusing myself. I close the door behind me, and for a few minutes linger in front of it, before looking down the hall. I let out a slight sigh, and begin to walk.

What am I supposed to do for an hour? There's no use in walking back home, only to return here a few minutes later. If I stay around the village I might bump into people I don't want to face right now. I know I told Naruto and Sakura that I would talk to them…I'm just not ready right now. I suppose if I bumped into them it would be a good time to fulfill that promise…however a part of me want to avoid that.

I am pulled out of my thoughts when I feel eyes burning into me. Not the usual watchful eyes of the ANBU that tail my companions and I, but something more personal. I look up slowing my pace even more. I come face to face with an old man only a few feet away on my left side. He looks at me with his one eye, his other one being bandaged. I keep my expression blank as I watch him coming closer and closer. His frown is deep only adding to the wrinkles at the side of his mouth. His eye is very small almost hidden by his age. Tuffs of black hair sit upon his head, and he is dressed in simple clothing. We pass one another turning our heads as if we weren't just staring each other down. I continue to walk at a leisurely pace, though the strange look that man gave me bothers me. I don't believe I know him, if I did I think he would have at least approached me. Instead he only seems to send bad feelings my way. I try to shrug it off, but the feeling won't let go. There's something strange about that man.

I exit the Hokage's building. The village is alive, and active. I try to shrink, not wanting anyone to recognize me and start asking hundreds of questions. I suppose I could get something to eat, and relax until I have to go fetch Itachi.

"Come on Sai, you know you're hunger!" I stiffen at the familiar voice that reaches my ears. Only Naruto could be so loud…

"You only want me to buy you Ramen because you don't have any money right now." A monotone voice that is strangely familiar replies to my old teammate.

"That's because I was totally out on a date with Sakura last night! You gotta treat a girl you know?"

"Really?" The voice questions and even I am skeptical that Naruto is telling the truth. I try to avoid the general direction the voices are coming from, seeing as they seem to be coming closer.

"Yeah really!"

"I hope she wasn't to disappointed later on that night, it must be hard to please a woman when you have so little to work with."

"Why the fuck are you always going on about my penis!"

"I'm not the only one who stops in their tracks and turns to look at the blonde. I can see him through a couple of people, and he huffs, before asking what they were all looking at.

I quicken my pace, seeing as I'm to close to Naruto for comfort, and only hope that he won't notice me. He's only two or tree people away from me, and he might catch my movement out of the corner of his e—

"Sasuke!" I let out a soft groan and turn around to meet angry blue eyes. "What are you doing out?"

"Tsunade had called for me." I say, he doesn't need to know the whole truth.

Naruto lets out a sigh, and rest his hand on his hips. A black haired boy walks up behind him, and I believe I've seen him before. Oh yes, he's my replacement.

"Why don't we talk? Have some lunch?" Naruto tries to lower his voice, sounding a little bit pleading. I look away at the ground, cursing my bad luck. I then shrug.

"I suppose…but don't be an idiot about it." I add the last part quickly.

"Ok, I wont, as long as you won't be an ass about it." He grins at me widely, covering up his concern and anger with a goofy smile, like he always did. I myself am annoyed, I don't' know why Naruto is so persistent, even when it's obvious that I'm hurting him emotionally. However…I suppose answer a couple of his questions and talking won't be so bad, maybe it'll bring him some closer, and I won't have to deal with awkward situations anymore.

Sai had left us alone, and I only order a drink, suddenly not feeling so hungry anymore. Naruto takes a bit of his food before looking up at me.

"Ok, ok, so I know why you left." He raises his hands. "I might not understand but I know why. You were upset, you felt trapped and limited, and you want to avenge your family. I can understand that, since I even left Konoha for a while to improve my strength." Naruto lets out a sigh. Before continuing.

"I'm not going to sugar coat this shit, I was upset, hell I'm still upset. You just up and left. I know you wanted revenge, but didn't you ever think that maybe you had made a new family that deserved some type of explanation, a family that would have gladly helped you and listen to you, if you only spoke up every once in a while. I know you don't think it'll every be the same, you're probably right. It won't be, because we're not kids anymore, because we've all seen horrible things over the years. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on you Sasuke. I don't understand you…I really don't. Maybe that makes you happy, that I'm admitting that. But…I know what it's like not to have a family…to sit around wondering what if...maybe I didn't lose my family in the same way, but I can somewhat relate. That's why I don't' understand…you gave up so many thing going out there to kill your brother…and then you don't. You come back here with him, and you think I wouldn't come and question that?"

Naruto's blue eyes look at me softly, waiting impatiently for an answer. What am I supposed to say? What do I even want to say? Why did a agree to this…

"I've told you before things change." Naruto was about to open his mouth but I shoot him a glare from over my folded hands. "You had your time to talk now it's my turn." I tell him sternly before continuing.

"I wasn't expecting for it to turn out like this. Yes I was angry, and yes maybe I was a little selfish. But it was my life and my decision. Why should I be trapped in Konoha when there was opportunity elsewhere. I was never going to let Orochimaru use me in the way he intended." I laugh out bitterly. "Maybe Konoha should have had a little more faith in me." I grumble out recalling all the things Itachi told me about their distrust when it comes to our clan.

"I'm sure you heard I killed Orochimaru." I continue. " That was my plan all along. I was using him, he wasn't using me. Then I would go to find my brother…I..I almost did kill him…I don't know what came over me what changed my mind. Some weird things happened, some strange things were said and all of a sudden next thing I know I'm dragging my brother around with me, making sure he stays alive rather then making sure he's dead. Naruto it won't be the same…I have other responsibilities now, a different path that I'm taking, yet again, with out you." I tell him honestly my word coming out a little harsh.

"We don't have to be teammates again Sasuke, I'm not asking for that. I'm just…I'm happy you came back, I wanted you to come back not because I wanted my old teammate back, because I wanted my friend back."

The words sting me a little and I don't look Naruto in the eyes. "Sakura wanted her friend back too. No matter what you do or says Sasuke, we're always going to be here. You know why?" I look up at him. "Cause unlike some people we know you're only a bastard because you're afraid of your own emotions. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone does what they think is right. Hell, some of the village might ask why me and Sakura want to mend a friendship with someone who just left and repeatedly insulted us, but that's because we know you. We know you can be a nice person, we know why you did the things you did. I'm not going to say I agree with your methods, but I know you never meant to hurt us. You were only trying to fix something inside of yourself, and having use around only confused you more. That's like Sakura giving up on me because I can't control my…'power' that well…" Naruto trailed off and I know perfectly well what he meant by power.

I nod at him, taking his words in. Naruto has changed, he's not the same hyper idiot I once knew. He still has the same root personality, but he seems calmer and more optimistic now. "I suppose you found a brain while I was gone."

Naruto's face turn from thoughtful to outraged. "You haven't change a damn bit!" He shouts getting the attention of the whole restaurant. I can't help the smirk that is starting to tug at my lips, though I hid it behind my still folded hands. I suppose I could give Naruto a little of my time every so often. It seems that my life is changing drastically, and it all started with Itachi. I can't say that I'm comfortable with the turn my life has taken, but nothing bad has come from it yet, so I suppose I can be a little more open to fate.

"So are you getting along with Itachi? You have part of your family back!" Naruto says happily. I look at him wondering how he can be so accepting and happy, even though I haven't really apologized. I don't' think I need to, I had my reasons and I won't say sorry for following my gut feeling all those years ago.

"We're getting along well." I say in a board tone, trying not to reveal the kind of relationship that has sprouted between my brother and me. "Which reminds me I have to go pick him up."

"Huh?" Naruto questions.

I shrug him off. "You know where I live if you're that desperate about being around me now that I'm back," I say teasingly, but not showing any emotion upon my face.

Soft music floats through the air, along with the rhythmic tap of hollow bamboo against rock. I take another long sip of my tea, taking in the sounds, as I look up at the red evening sky. Soft pink clouds glide across the sky, the sun solemn and deep red, reminding me of Itachi's blank eyes. I turn slightly towards my brother who is leaning against one of the poles, one leg crossed to support the shamisen while the other hangs off the edge of the wooden porch toes touching the grass. His long elegant fingers strum the instrument in a way that seems impossible. His hands slowly moving to produce the traditional sound, eyes staring out into the garden towards the bamboo spout he cannot see. I still wonder when he learned how to play. It wasn't during our childhood he had enough things on his plate. Maybe during his stay with Akatsuki. Or maybe he simple used sharingan when he saw someone else play, and is mimicking their movements.

Juugo is in the garden a couple of feet ahead and to my right. He looks at he birds peacefully enjoying nature. He hasn't had any problems with his temper lately, which I'm grateful for. My mind is busy, even though I shouldn't' be thinking so much. Konoha should be a save haven, however it's just brought new thoughts to my mind, thoughts of the past…Thoughts of the future. Thoughts of having to guide and lead the people that depend on me.

I take another sip of tea, Karen is reading a book close to me, a teapot by her side. Her eyes occasionally flicking my way eager to refill my cup if needed.

Though I try to push it away, Naruto's words earlier today held some truth. I don't' consider myself a benevolent person. I've done many things that have hurt many people...somehow…maybe subconsciously I make up for it. I turned my back on Konoha, using and then killing Orochimaru. Granted it could be seen as self-defense. Sure I could simply say the only reason I took in Karin, Juugo, and Suigetsu is for my own benefit, but that would only be half the truth. I've never been one to be alone. It seems ironic, even though I may not be kind, or social towards the people around me, I've always felt comfortable with just having people near. I don't need the social aspect, just the noise. I enjoy my time alone, however I think everyone slowly gets board with the quiet of solitude…even Itachi.

I wouldn't hesitate to kill if someone pushed me. If someone threatened something that belongs to me, be it a person or something else, I will kill. The sight of death doesn't affect me…I've seen it all before. I maybe emotionless and can stomach many things ninjas only learn to deal with during high ranking missions when they are older, but does that make me evil? Yes I felt joy when I tutored Itachi, though now I look back at it with regret, because it was under false pretense. I can only be cruel when it is justified…I can only betray when I can justify it, no matter how selfish. I don't believe I was selfish…I wanted to kill my brother out of revenge, and duty towards my clan, and my family. I didn't know the truth back then...I won't believe anyone who would say they could simply live past that desire. No matter how much of a saint you maybe…when you are faced with a chance to avenge your loved one you will take it. It might not end in death…but you will take action in some way. It's only human.

"More Tea?" Karen brings me out of my thoughts, and I notice that I'm lowering my now empty cup from my mouth. I raise my hand and shake my head, putting the cup down beside me.

I like to ignore my emotions and not feel them, just ac cold and indifferent. However, with all these new events and feeling, I seem to be trying to discover myself a little more. How that will benefit me I do not know. Maybe it's only a waste of time, but I can't keep my mind from wondering back to the topic of emotions, and self-awareness. I'm sure if Itachi knew how much I'm trying to discover myself he would be pleased. Itachi always seems so in control...I only know it's not because he's suppressing his emotions, but it's because he has found inner peace with himself, and knows his own soul inside out. He regrets nothing, he wishes to change nothing about himself, he simply feels and lets it wash over him like a breeze, but never shivers showing the affect of the breeze. I smirk a little, I think I would like to be able to have a little emotion though…I doubt I'll ever get rid of my lack of patience…we will never be the same...me and Itachi. But if we were it would be boring. Itachi wouldn't be a mystery anymore then, and he wouldn't have a reason to guide me and give me advise. Not to mention that I believe—no matter how much in control he has over his expression—I amuse my brother in some way. With my actions word, or childish behavior…after all I am still a child compared to him. That doesn't mean I'm immature or stupid, it simply means I haven't experienced as much as Itachi has…which is reasonable seeing as he's older then I am.

Karin picks up her book, my cup and the teakettle, shuffling into the house, as the sky finally becomes a dark blue. Juugo (whose friends have left him for the night) turn to reenter the house as well.

The soft sound of silk gliding against polished wood gets my attention. Itachi is walking towards me shamisen left behind to rest against a sliding paper door. He kneel down in front of me, looking much like a prince with his hair loosely tied into that ponytail of his, and kimono hanging loosely over his body.

"It is nice when your companions are not so talkative, and we can just enjoy the night. He says in a conversational tone. The sound of bugs rubbing their wings together start to echo through out the air along with the occasional frog call.

"It's not like you have to put up with them." I huff out.

"Oh, but I have to deal with that girl occasionally. The male seems ok, he keeps to himself." Itachi explains.

"Juugo's nice…especially when I don't have to worry about him going on a killing spree." I say emotionlessly tilting my head back slightly to look at the emerging stars. We lapse into a comfortable silence and Itachi simply stays close to me. I enjoy his company, but don't say anything.

I roll my head back to look into his empty red eyes that stare unfocused at me. He lowers his eyelids slowly, indicating that he knows I'm looking at him, and that I have his attention. I stay silent for a while longer before deciding to speak.

"What do you think father and mother would think of us now?' I ask, this question seemed to surprise my brother for a short moment. However he composed himself, his face taking on a clam thoughtful look, as his eyes closed.

"I think father would be furious at you." He says plainly.

"At me? You're the one who cam on to me." I say accusingly.

"Ah, but father would scold you just like when I promised to spend time with you and he would tell you I have no time for childish games." Itachi was right, our father always seemed to be annoyed by me.

"What bout mother, she was always the kinder of the two." I muse

"Oh mother had not will of her own," Itachi says sadly shaking his head with slight bitterness.

"You didn't like mother?"

"I didn't know mother…she was but a shell who simply agreed with father on everything. Sure she would comfort you, and I see how you could get attached to her, but she only comfort you so you wouldn't' start trouble with dad, or persist in taking my attention away from my studies."

I think back and can understand Itachi's reasoning, but I push it aside quickly. "How was the meeting with Tsunade." It is the first time I'm asking.

"It was fine." I'm not surprised at the answer. Of course he wouldn't give me any details.

"Fine…" I let my words trail of, though I'm not finished with my thought. "Do you really think we are safe here?"

"Trust is a hard thing to get back. However keep in mind that Konoha has the same enemy as us, and we are offering our knowledge. We are safe her, they need us, besides the elders wouldn't want my story to leak. They've kept many secrets from the people of Konoha, I am sure. Once on secret gets out, people will start questioning them."

"Madara can still find us here. Whatever it is he wants from us."

Itachi's soft long fingers run down my cheek, and I look into his dead eyes.

"You worry to much, little brother." He whispers out in a stoic tone. However I can feel the concern and comfort he's trying to provide. I take his hand and kiss the tips of his fingers softly, before using his hand to pull him closer to me. I plant a chaste kiss upon his lips. He leans into it, and I deepen our kiss. Itachi doesn't submit readily, however that doesn't deter my tongue from claiming dominance. Our fingers intertwine, tongues fencing playfully, though I know how the match will end. Despite Itachi's age, and stubbornness he's already shown me on more then one occasion that he will readily submit to me. I don't think it's shameful, it only adds to his beauty. I don't think he's every seen himself as dominate…he's always been the gentler wiser one, while I've been the blunt and rash one.

"Sas…uke..?" I turn my half-lidded eyes lazy to see who has interrupted my time with Itachi this time. I'm a little surprised to see Sakura flushed and wide eyed.

"Sakura? What are you doing here?" I question with a tone of indifference, still holding on to my brother hand, who is looking towards Sakura.

"I...I'm sorry...I...Naruto told me about the talk you had with him...and I wanted to come see you…" She whispers out, still in disbelief. I slowly and reluctantly slip my fingers out of my brother's soft grasp.

"Karen…she let me in." she defends herself, as she looks away to avoid eye contact. I rest my hands loosely on my hips, which are instantly covered by my loose fitting yukata, which is tucked into my pants. I walk towards her.

"Is there something you wanted to talk about?" I question here.

She doesn't look at me, which annoyed me slightly. "I…I was just so happy to hear you and Naruto worked things out. I wanted to come talk with you, about how you've been, about your plans for the future…If you would be staying here indefinitely…" She mutters out in a low voice.

"I see," I breathe out. I did promise her I would talk with her as well. However it was evening, and I wanted to settle and slow down for the day, enjoy the company of my brother and let my mind drift. I didn't plan on any sort of social interaction, unless it was quick and curt.

Sakura finally gathers the power to look up at me briefly. I can come another time." She insists.

"That would be best. I like to relax during the evening. The conversation I had with Naruto was braining enough. I did say I would talk to the both of you. My meeting with Naruto was not planed, so I would assume you wouldn't be upset if I turned you down for the day, and contact you some other time?" It wasn't as much of a question as it was a command. I wanted her to leave plain and simple. Not only because once again I was interrupted when I was in an intimate setting with Itachi, but because I could tell she's uncomfortable with the new discovery. I could care less. I know that in our younger years she held some feeling towards me, but I basically brushed her off much like I do Karen. My love life should be my business…though it never seems to turn out that way.

"Sasuke...I…" I look at her expectingly. "I'm sorry for dropping by unannounced." She looks past me at my brother, who is patiently waiting for my return. "What where you—"

"Good evening Sakura." I say sternly, gesturing her to leave. I don't have to answer for my actions. I would like to keep my relationship with my brother as private as possible. It's enough to worry about Karen's perversion, I don't need to worry about Sakura's big mouth telling Naruto, and then having said blonde burst into my home (possibly interrupting another intimate encounter with my luck) and asking a million questions.

"Good evening." She mumbles out lowly giving on last fleeting glance between me and my brother before turning to take her leave. I stand in place for a little while until I cannot see her anymore and her the click of the front door. With a soft-irritated growl I turn towards Itachi, and take my earlier sit beside him.

"We can never have peace." I grumble.

"Maybe it's the gods' way of telling use our relationship is unnatural."

"Any gods the allow murder, should keep their mouths shut about incest." I say sternly.

"Incest? I don't like that word, it seems so tainted." Itachi muses out loud.

"Call it what you like." I say softly.