A/N: Alright, finally, I like this chapter. I don't know why, I just feel like it works.

Chapter Stats
Rating: PG
Pairings: minor SasuSaku


C h a p t e r E i g h t : H u m a n i t y

After Sasuke had left, I remained stagnant on the bed for a time, simply reviewing my situation over and over, trying to contemplate meanings and circumstances far beyond the normal. I thought about Sasuke and his bittersweet actions, and Itachi and his unreadable ones. I wondered what you two would think of all of this… and I wondered what my own mother would say. Yet, none of the things that came to mind spoke loudly, and I remained wrapped in my own judgments, pushing aside or even not caring about what others would say.

If I was going to prove myself to Sasuke, I would have to throw away any of the morals that I had kept so close to my heart. Playing by the rules was out of the question. I realized that in order to do this through my current means, I'd have to manipulate Uchiha Itachi for my own use.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? At this point, nothing seemed to be.

At the time, though he was an astonishing person of unknowns, I didn't realize how deep his web of control ran. Maybe he had planned for me to get this idea into my head from the very beginning. Maybe it didn't matter at all.

Things were about to play out very interestingly, and I wonder still if that weasel knew it all before it even happened.

I didn't know what time it was. I estimated that five days had passed since my departure from Konoha. I slid out of the bed, and my bare feet against the cold wooden floor sent chills through my spine. The light from the lantern that had been left in the room flickered gently, and through it, I could see a pair of sandals near the door. They certainly would never have fit Sasuke as he was now, and I wondered, as I slipped them on, if they, like the clothes, belonged to him when he was younger. They were still a bit too big for me, but they would do. I had to get a bearing on my location… exactly what kind of place did Uchiha Sasuke reside in?

I put a careful hand on the doorknob and twisted it. It slid with ease, and I pulled the thick door open, only to be greeted by darkness on the other side. I bit my lip and grabbed the lantern, which was filled to half-capacity of kerosene. That was at least enough to explore this household.

The light brightened the room before me, which was, apparently, a small hallway. I was at its polar end, and at the other side was another room, its door ajar. I could faintly see the outline of a toilet in the translucent darkness that encompassed it.

Swinging the lamp to the side, I could see a sharp staircase that led to a traditional sliding door at the bottom. A weak light, assumedly from the moon, shone through it, illuminating a bit of the bottom level of the house.

It only occurred to me at that moment that Sasuke was not in the house. Or, at least, his chakra presence was nowhere to be found. He must have stormed out after I had hurt his pride… How predictable… I smirked to myself.

I carefully made my way down the stairs, keeping one hand on a thin banister and the other tightly around the handle of the lantern. As I stepped onto the second-to-last step, my left sandal, which was apparently bigger than I thought, slid forward uncomfortably, and I tried to adjust it with my next step. This only made me unsteady, and I nearly went crashing to the floor. I let out a muffled cry and tried to grasp the banister with the lantern hand, sending said object flying.

"Shit!" I cursed, knowing that the floor, made of wood, would be ignited by the flame if the lantern was to break. I forced my eyes shut and waited to hear the glass shatter.

But it never did.

"If you wanted a tour of my house, why didn't you just ask?" Sasuke's velvety voice was bored-toned as usual.

"Huh…?" I whirled around, and was predictably greeted by the sight of said Uchiha, who held the previously-airborne lamp in his hand. I felt a blush spread across my face, and I was quick to mutter, "Sorry…"

He simply shrugged. "It doesn't matter what happens to this place. I found it abandoned. Since I move around a lot, it's not worth paying for anything."

"Oh." His explanation was unexpected. I took the last step and stood beside Sasuke, looking up at him with curious eyes. He watched me tiredly, and seemed a bit puzzled as to why I was standing there.

"Well… aren't you going to show me around?" I said pleasantly.

He raised an eyebrow. "It's two o'clock in the morning."

This surprised me a bit. I knew it wasn't the night that I had been knocked out… so I must have been unconscious that entire day.

Reading my expression, he sighed. "You should go back to bed…" He turned to walk away.

Where had he come from just then, anyways? Had he, all that time, been in the house? Or had he just coincidentally appeared when I lost my balance?

"How… were you there so quick to catch the lantern?" I spouted out. Sasuke's response was a glance over the shoulder that told me, in no uncertain terms, that my question was ridiculous. He continued on out of the room, in through a doorway that was situated to the right of the staircase.

He must have been in the house the whole time, completely masking his chakra.

I stood there in the dark nervously, for he had taken the lantern with him. Did he really expect me to return to his bed and sleep? Assumedly not.

I followed Sasuke's path into the next room, where the light had gone, glowing half-heartedly from the corner of the room on top of a small windowsill where it had been set. Sasuke sat articulately in a chair that faced a plain wooden table. He didn't bother to glance at me as I entered, or as I eyed him.

Did this dark person really care for me? I found it hard to believe. If I was to complete my goal, I'd have to make it so, and I supposed that the best way to start was to find out where I currently stood. I took a deep breath and spoke carefully.

"So… you can't have any bonds, right?"

His eyes snapped to me, though his body didn't shift at all. His silence was a bold answer to my question. I was obviously annoying him, which is metaphorically, and sometimes literally, playing with fire… but this was vital.

"That's a no, but… can you have feelings?"

My words were heavy on us both. He looked bewildered for a second, although the stoic façade was quickly restored. Perhaps this was a loophole in his explanations that he had not explored before.

"I know it's none of my business… it's just something I've been thinking about," I continued. "Hate is your life… but do you feel anything else?"

Sasuke's body was rigid, and his gaze was locked on mine. "Even if I did, would it matter?"

I nodded slowly. "Everyone's feelings are important… no matter what they are."

He loosened slightly, and his gaze dropped from mine, rather staring impassively at the wall before him. "I don't need feelings anymore."

"But are you saying that you don't have them?" I responded.

"Hn. It doesn't matter," he muttered. "Go back to bed, Sakura. Be glad that I'm allowing you to stay at all."

I didn't want to leave. It was strange that I was getting him to talk at all… and I didn't want it to stop.

"It does matter, Sasuke-kun." It was physically obvious that he was trying to ignore me. "Why did you decide that I could stay?"

He was grinding his teeth. "It doesn't matter. Shut up and leave, or I'll reconsider."

I narrowed my eyes. "What are you so afraid of?"

Again, his eye jerked in my direction. "Fear? Hardly," he growled. "I don't have to tell you anything."

I sighed. "You're right, you don't… but if I'm going to live with you for a week, I need to know what's going on in your head." He only closed his eyes in response. I had a strange feeling that his anger was fabricated…

"I'm not asking you to reveal to me your deepest, darkest secrets… I just need some verification… I… I need to know you're still human." That hadn't come out the way I had wanted it to, but I realized that it worked much better this way.

Sasuke was silent, but I could tell that his mind was spinning, searching for a cocky, arrogant, Uchiha-hatred-esque retort to come back with, but he was finding none. After a moment, he digressed.

"And how do you want me to do that?"

"Show me that you have feelings."

He scoffed. "Do you want me to draw my own blood and cry about it?"

"That's not the type of feeling I'm talking about… and you know that damn well." An arrogant smirk was making its way across his face… but I wasn't about to let it get so far. It was the most daring thing I may have ever done, but in order to make him eat his pride, I'd have to do something rash. As much as I hate clichés… it must be said: desperate times call for desperate measures.

"Kiss me."

The smirk dropped off of his face like a lead balloon. He turned to face me directly, his expression a mixture of shock and irritation. In the flickering light of the lantern, he looked somewhat terrifying.

"And what would that prove, other than that you'll never grow out of your childhood fantasies?" he retorted darkly.

I was just as impassive. "It's easy to tell if someone means a kiss or not. I don't care if you even think of me as an acquaintance anymore… because it's not about me; if you've got an ounce of humanity in you, put it forth and show me."

And he didn't know what to say to that.


A/N: I don't have time to re-read this! If you see any big errors, please tell me.

And review!