Comments: Thank you for all of your reviews! To be honest, between my posting of this and two chapters of MiLoCo I have been unable to reply to them! I'm so sorry. I 'll set aside some time to be better at it.
When Sasuke woke up, he was dimly reminded how rough his journey had been. His muscles were sore and he was light headed, and someone had left the window open above him. He squinted as the sun's rays temporarily blinded him, and after a minute the bamboo blinds snapped shut and a cool hand brushed across his forehead.
"You should sleep some more," it was his brother's voice and it was full of an ample sort of concern, and Sasuke ignored it. He struggled to sit up in the familiar bedding of his room, reaching for a glass of water that sat at his bedside.
His mind felt foggy as he woke up, attempting to recall everything that had happened. The trek had been long and wary, and he remembered the blond-haired boy from the cave—but even though he was the most mysterious part of the journey, only one thought circulated in Sasuke's mind.
He hadn't returned with the scroll.
As the youngest in his clan he had been entrusted with a mission that not only would place him in rank, but earn him a more secure status in the village. His clan had a reputation, and he had spoiled it somewhat. He grimaced as he swallowed the water, his dry throat eagerly willing it down.
"What have the elders said?" He asked, and he lifted his eyes to meet the blood-red irises of his older brother. They were swirling with indigo hues, a sign that his brother had recently used them—had he been upset with someone? The bloodline trait of his family wasn't activated easily, and it made Sasuke nervous.
"They don't blame you," were his brother's words, and even Sasuke could hear the mixed feelings behind him. Itachi had been depending on him to return with the scroll as much as the village leaders had, and Sasuke frowned when he realized that his return was more shameful than anything else.
"How did I get back to the village?" he asked, and his brother eyed him skeptically.
"You don't remember?"
Sasuke shook his head and glanced around his room, half expecting to see a blond-haired foreigner bouncing around. He wasn't disappointed when his vision didn't reign true, but he was surprised when his brother's expression looked ominous.
"Sasuke," he said, and his expression was dim. "What you were supposed to bring back was the scroll to seal demons," he continued, and Sasuke's eyes narrowed as the room suddenly became colder. It wasn't like his brother to be nervous, or even this serious. He narrowed his eyes.
"I know that," he stated and when his brother's eyes met his, it shivers up his spine.
"What you brought back was a demon itself," his brother's words were cold and absolute, and Sasuke felt his blood run cold.
"W-what?" Visions of the blond-haired boy raved through his mind and he contemplated the situation. He hadn't expected that person to be normal—but a demon? A demon he had released?
There was a knock on the door and Uchiha Shisui stepped inside, closing the door behind him. He was the youngest member of the council and he was also Itachi's closest friend, making his allegiance to the two brothers slightly stronger than his secrecy to the small group of leaders in his village.
"What have they decided?" Itachi asked, and Sasuke glanced up to Shisui who was wearing the ornate robes of council meetings. He looked serious and his eyes were low.
"Sasuke, I'm afraid I don't have the best of news," Shisui said, and from the corner of his eye Sasuke saw Itachi's face curl in anger. The councilman continued.
"The decision was unanimous. Until this demon has been resealed and you return with the scroll, the village cannot permit you to stay."
There was a heavy silence in the room before Itachi flew up from his chair next to Sasuke's bed, his eyes flaring. "He was too young to be sent in the first place. The village can't estrange him because they made a bad decision."
Even though Itachi's words were meant to defend, they bit into Sasuke's pride. Had it really been a mistake to assume he was capable of retrieving something so valuable? Was he really that useless?
He pulled the comforter down from his chest as Shisui attempted to re-explain the situation and held his pounding head in his hands. It was true that he was young, and even more true that he was born into the family with the strongest bloodline—but it was even more devastating that he was sixteen and still didn't have a streak of red blazing in his Uchiha eyes.
His brother was getting more and more angry by the second and Shisui looked unfortunate enough to be the messenger. After a minute, Sasuke narrowed his eyes and pulled his attention upwards.
"Where is he?" he asked, and the comment seemed to catch both men off guard. They turned to him and Shisui let out a reluctant sigh. "The demon?"
"Don't go near him, Sasuke." Itachi's voice was deep and dangerous, and Sasuke snorted. Even if Naruto was a demon, Sasuke hadn't felt any real fear around him. And he definitely didn't feel like being patronized or warned considering he was to be forced from the village due to the creature.
"I don't think he can hurt me," Sasuke said quietly before meeting his brother's skeptical gaze. "He said something like he was bound to me…and that he was indebted to me."
Itachi's expression looked even more discourteous after that comment, and Shisui raised an eyebrow. "He said that to you?"
Sasuke nodded and pulled himself out of his bed, noting that for the first time in a few days he was going to be able to take a long and relaxing bath. Afterwards he planned on visiting Naruto—which was odd anyway. What kind of demon looked human and had a name like 'Naruto'?
"Sasuke…" Shisui looked apologetic and completely affected by the council's decision. "Get cleaned up…and I'll take you to see the demon. The council wants you off by tomorrow morning, so…"
"There are a lot of plans to be made," Itachi concluded. He sounded bitter and resentful; he had always been overprotective for Sasuke's sake. Going against the council was an uphill losing battle however, and it seemed as though the older brother had just settled for preparing his younger brother for a journey that would be anything but peaceful and easy.
Sasuke nodded and turned towards his bathroom, feeling more angry and ashamed of himself than anything else. He had originally thought that the council would give him another chance, but the fact that blond idiot had brought him back ruined his chances for salvaging any of his lost pride.
He closed the door behind him, leaving Itachi and Shisui to chat amongst themselves, and started the water in his marble-basin tub. He was only wearing white gaucho leggings, assumably from when whatever family doctor had tried to dress his wounds, and as he ran a hand through his hair he felt dried and crusted dirt fleck from the movement.
He frowned and stepped into the tub, soaking up the feeling of hot water against his pale skin, turning it pink. He used soaps to rub the grimy feeling from himself, and leaned backwards to douse his hair in the heated liquid. After nearly twenty minutes of ridding himself of any speck of dirt or sign of travel he drained the basin and stepped out, drying himself before dressing in a classic Uchiha crested back tunic and long slacks. He was tall for his age, he knew.
He ruffled his hair in a fluffy towel and let it fall haphazardly around his face, and having a mind of its own it curled around his features perfectly. He felt clean and better prepared to visit the object of his present anger.
"Are you ready?" Shisui had been waiting outside of the large house Sasuke shared with his brother, and when Sasuke flinched at the brightness of the sun, he guessed it was around mid-afternoon. He nodded and ignored wary glances he received from other members of his village, all probably more than well informed about the fact he hadn't returned with the sealing scroll.
Shisui looked agitated but they both remained silent until they approached the barracks—the place where his village held the most dangerous of criminals. Despite the fact Naruto appeared to be a demon, it seemed a little much. Sasuke felt pity only for a second before he realized that he had no room for sympathy—especially for a demon—in his heart.
"When he brought you back, the elders panicked," Shisui explained, and he flashed his crest as a councilman to get permission from the front desk guards to enter the facility stronghold. The building itself was immaculate and huge; a stone edifice with shinobi lined at every corner to guard the inhabitants. It was cold and stale the deeper they traveled, and the air was almost sickeningly humid—the muggy weather from the land above sinking lower into the earth's depths.
"Is he really that dangerous?" Sasuke asked, knowing that the more feared prisoners were usually held captive lower. It made his stomach turn a bit—what had he freed?
Shisui turned a corner on the third level down and led Sasuke to an open chamber and his eyes narrowed somewhat, seeing that his council elders had left no bars uncovered in their effort to subdue the demon beast.
Aside from the fact he was behind a barred enclosure, he was also cuffed within. Barrier scrolls littered the chamber, all the strongest kind, ensuring that he couldn't step a foot outside of their bounds. There was only a small window near the top of the interior walling, and surprisingly enough, Naruto was hunched up by it, staring outside.
"It's about time you came to get me out of this mess," Naruto's voice surprised Sasuke, and as the demon turned his head, bright blue eyes once again assaulted faded coal. Sasuke snorted.
"I haven't come to get you out of anything," he stated, and he watched as the almost relieved expression on the demon's face grew sour.
"Hey, I saved you," the blond urged, batting his eyelashes. "And this is what I get for it?"
Sasuke couldn't help but think that it was a little incredulous, but he kept his stoic expression. He put his hands in his pockets and Shisui seemed to just be interested in their interaction more than anything else.
"You should have thought about the fact you were a demon before meandering into my village," he replied shortly, and in seconds Naruto hopped down from the window—a long distance to drop—and shot against the cage, grabbing the bars.
"I told you already," he said quietly, as if he only wanted Sasuke to hear, "I had to save you. It's my duty…!"
Sasuke raised an eyebrow and finally Shisui's interest seemed overly perked. He stepped forward, his eyes still cautious, and let out a breath.
"What is your demon name?" he asked, and Naruto seemed to be surprised before his attitude went completely placid.
"I don't have a reason to tell you anything," he said, and he looked Shisui up and down, almost as if his white robes were intimidating. Sasuke glanced between them and frowned.
"The council hasn't even learned anything about him?" it was strange, considering they seemed afraid enough to have placed him in such high security. Shisui shook his head.
"Sasuke," he said firmly, "that mark on his stomach—it's not a seal just anyone can use…and it's not one that any normal demon can survive. He's one of the tailed demons," he explained, and Sasuke felt his eyes go wide and his face pale. He jerked his attention back to Naruto who looked bored.
"Just what is going on with the tailed beasts, anyway?" he asked, an eyebrow raised. "You even said something about finding the sealing scroll in the cave," he added, and Sasuke felt his anger bubbling.
"You're not denying it—being a tailed-demon?" he snarled, and Naruto shook his head.
"Why would I lie about it?" he looked completely baffled and Shisui looked skeptical. This was the most anyone had been able to get out of the new prisoner and he couldn't help but owe it to Sasuke's presence. It wasn't a lie that the demon trusted him—strangely enough.
"Something must have happened over the past couple hundred years that I don't know about," Naruto said finally, and he sighed before retreating into his cell and plopping onto the floor. "Madara's council would have never treated me like this."
Sasuke didn't even blink before Shisui waded past the barriers, his eyes wide and grueling. "What did you just say?"
Naruto glanced up minutely, still looking irritated. He glanced back to Sasuke before deciding to answer.
"Like I'm a criminal. You're supposed to respect me—not lock me up. Which, by the way, is pretty useless."
It was dangerous for Shisui to be so close, Sasuke knew, but it seemed as though something Naruto had said struck his interest. And Sasuke never saw Shisui anything but calm, so it made his chest feel tense. He stepped forward next to his friend.
"No, you said 'Madara'. How do you know Madara?" Shisui's voice was urgent and it after a minute, Naruto smirked. He stood up languidly, drawing attention to how toned his young body was, and how dangerous he looked in the poor underground lighting.
"Hmm. You know him?" Naruto's attention completely drifted away from Sasuke, intent on the older man next to him. His eyes were low, and the hazy blue in them were bright and focused.
"How do you know him?" Shisui repeated, and Naruto let his fingers run up the bars of the cell before gripping them, a movement that made Sasuke's stomach tighten. He had never met someone who could command attention so easily.
"I'll tell you what," Naruto said. "If you tell me what's happened with the tailed-demons, I'll tell you all about Madara."
"As if we would trust a demon," Sasuke said firmly, but Shisui looked more than enticed. After a moment, the older Uchiha looked reluctant and nodded. "Keep your word, demon."
Sasuke was surprised at how easily he had given in, especially when he didn't understand why this Madara person was so important. He decided to remain quiet though, and to just listen.
"The story behind the tailed-beasts is simple. They've broken their bonds and are destroying villages, as I can only assume you will try to do if you are free," Shisui explained, and Naruto's expression changed from confident and overwhelming to shocked and confused.
"That's impossible. They have no reason to," he said, and Shisui frowned.
"It's true, and I don't believe you're as naïve as you make yourself out to be. Hold up your end," he directed, and Naruto looked offended and then defensive.
"When were they sealed? How long have I been…" his voice drained away, and suddenly looked more determined. "Madara…was a friend. A partner. He's the ruler of the fire nation, or was at least. He had the binding scroll," he nodded towards Sasuke, "before you."
Shisui was unreasonably quiet, and it made Sasuke nervous. He glanced up at the older man and then to Naruto, trying to make out just what Naruto had just admitted.
"I don't believe it," Shisui said, and before Sasuke could ask, more words left his pale lips. Words that made Sasuke's blood run cold, and his nerves jump.
"You can't be…the nine-tailed demon…"
Naruto glanced between them before turning away from the cell, shrugging. He obviously was oblivious to what power that statement held. "I don't see why it matters. I'm indebted to Sasuke, anyhow."
Shisui glanced down to Sasuke and then to Naruto and everything seemed to makes sense in Sasuke's head. The reason Naruto hadn't wanted to seal anything—the reason he had two seals. The reason his presence was so demanding.
"I told you that I don't want you," Sasuke stated, and Naruto rolled his eyes.
"That doesn't change the fact that you're the one who released me," he explained. He looked annoyed. "Don't you understand? I would do anything for you. I'm bound to—I can only use my power for what you tell me to."
Sasuke blinked. He hadn't thought of that.
"Sasuke. Tell him exactly what I tell you to," Shisui said, and his eyes were narrow and his voice was firm. Sasuke was surprised by the comment, but he nodded anyhow, and Naruto looked surprised and suddenly anxious.
"You will help me find and subdue the tailed-demons, bringing no harm to me or the Uchiha village, only honor." Shisui's words made Naruto's eyes go wide and he threw a glance at Sasuke willing him not to repeat those words.
"I can't—those demons, they're my friends—"
But Sasuke only stared before repeating Shisui's words, and effectively silencing Naruto's desperate voice.
There was silence afterwards where Naruto seemed to soak up the command, and he looked betrayed—an expression that Sasuke found hard to ignore.
"Why? Why would you do that…?" His comment was planted on Shisui and he looked more defeated than ever, which was surprising to Sasuke. Shisui shook his head.
"I never in my life thought I would live to see a true binding," he explained, and he put his hand across the prison lever, effectively unlocking it with a spell. Naruto glanced down at the opening cautiously, and even Sasuke was unsure of the action.
"Whatever you tell him, he'll do, Sasuke," Shisui said. "And as of now, he is no longer harmful to this village or its people."
Sasuke felt a new sort of power in his words, but waited for Shisui to speak again.
"Itachi and I got everything together for you—so you could leave tonight. I actually feel much better about this, now that he will be accompanying you," he said, and Naruto snorted, looking irritated at the situation.
"Leave this town and find the sealing scroll—there are more than one. If the one in our mountain isn't there anymore…you'll have to find one in the other major cities of the fire nation."
Sasuke nodded and glanced over to Naruto, narrowing his eyes. "Don't double-cross me," he added for insurance, still not entirely as trusting as Shisui. Naruto frowned and rolled his eyes. "Yes, master."
"We'll take the back passageway up so that the guards don't see him," Shisui said, and Sasuke nodded. When Naruto stepped outside of the barrier scrolls without looking pained, the two Uchiha's exchanged glances. The blond frowned.
"I told you they were useless," he said, and Sasuke snorted. "Why didn't you escape already?"
Naruto's next words made the rest of the journey silent, and made Sasuke feel vaguely bitter.
"Because," he said quietly, "I have no where else to go."
a/n: Okay, so I only have two written and again, this probably won't be one of my fast updating ones. I'll do what I can though.
Thank you for reading!