Preview for the sequel - Family Connections! Now posting in a separate story with weekly updates. :)

The Uchiha compound had originally been designed to hold nearly a dozen families, with even more room just outside of the walls proper for extend and lesser members. They had not been as self-contained as the Hyuga, but there was the unspoken understanding within the family that one stayed as close as possible, with the more prestigious family members nestled in the sanctuary of the center. It was standard practice. Yes, those nin might be more capable of defending themselves, but they were also more valuable. There were priorities to observe.

After the decimation of the Uchiha clan, the rented properties and houses just outside of the compound's walls returned to the village. Slowly they were bought up by freshly minted Chuunin (who liked to make sure everyone knew they didn't mind living next to a ghost town) or new merchant families more interested in the cheaper spacious quarters and less aware of the inherent wrongness most nin felt in the area.

The compound itself remained untouched. It still had an owner, and as much as certain village representatives might groan about limited real estate and rising prices, none of the old families were willing to cross that line. After all, inheritance rights were a cornerstone of what kept them held together – both within their clans (and the pecking orders therein) and to the village that promised them stability and consistency. The Uchiha Clan still existed, even if most felt it won't for much longer. That meant it had the protection of the village – even if it was an eyesore and a waste.

So when an enemy nin tried to crawl its way in from the eastern road, over the market area and across the training fields, and slither its way through the narrow streets of the civilian housing until it past the new barracks towers on the east side, heading inevitable for the Uchiha compound – well, the guards took notice.

The Chuunin at the gate was the first to flag it. He didn't actually see anything, but the regularly scheduled sweep of that side of the wall at 0330 showed slight scuff marks on the inside of the railing. So he called it in. Might be a bird. Could have been merely a case of carelessness from the Chuunin who checked that spot before at the 0315 mark, but it still got reported.

The Jounin commander on duty accepted the report, which meant a Confirmation of Incident went back to her commander (to be filed later when there was time for such things). But first, she stepped out to take a look. She caught the edge of something out of one eye, but not enough to engage. That however warranted an Intrusion Report (hastily scrawled on a slip of paper in short hand and sent off ahead of her) before the Jounin swung back around to grab the closest off-duty colleague (who had just gotten back from his own mission and had to leave behind a fresh plate of hot food and a full beer). The two of them headed towards their sudden 'meeting', loudly and conspicuously, but also just on the edge of tailing their prey. Just close enough to keep an eye on him.

No reason to spook the poor bastard before the ANBU got their dirty little claws into him.

Crane took pleasure in literally dropping on the rat's head as he tried to get his way past the wards on the western wall. The enemy nin had shown a certain level of skill in making it this far, and in identifying the weakest point in the defenses surrounding the Uchiha complex, but he was still out classed and Crane was going to make sure he knew it.

She landed knees first on his shoulders. Not enough to break anything (particularly not his neck at this angle, she'd have had to shift slightly down and to the left to do that) but it was enough to send the man staggering nearly face first into the tripwire in front of him. Which would have been an entertaining way to wrap up this bit of hunt and retrieve, but T&I always want their guests alive if possible. They got grumpy if all you brought back were bits.

The man scrambled out from under her, just barely managing to avoid setting off the rigged explosive tag through a somewhat impressive display of flexibility and dexterity. He came up armed and desperate. Which was good. Wouldn't do for infiltrators not to take them seriously. He immediately went for her throat, easy enough to parry, before twisting around and trying to shove a kunai up through the left arm gap of her chest piece. A good textbook move, going for the heart like that. She broke his wrist. Hand to hand might not be her preferred method for settling disputes, but it certainly had its advantages in the residential districts. No stray kunai and no property damage or loss of life from overpowered jutsus.

The broken wrist was seriously going to hamper her opponent and he was smart enough to realize it. It was enough to make him rethink his approach. Might be enough to spook him into trying to run. They couldn't have that. She slipped in close, making sure his arms were out and useless even if her body was close to his, and jammed the edge of her forearm guard into his throat. It wasn't enough to draw blood, but going by the way he was choking and gasping, he wasn't going to be able to focus on anything else any time soon. The genjutsu to make him think he still couldn't breathe was enough to have him pass out at her feet.

There was a click from nearby and Bear's voice in the darkness. "Three point four nine minutes. From Chuunin to ANBU. Not bad."

"Would have been faster if we hadn't had to wait for him to fumble his way around the Chuunin barracks."

"Well, I suppose we can't expect all intruders to be up to your high standards, Crane," Bear commiserated in the most sincere voice he was capable of. "Where's he claiming not to be from?"

Crane nudged him over with one boot, even though they had both gotten a good look before. "Rock. But I've never seen a Rock nin in those pants before."

"Chaffing," Bear agreed.

They both grimaced.

"Anyway!" Crane announced, not wanting to remember her own ventures into such things or anyone else's. "Let's bring T&I their new toy. This is the first one this week. The spooks will be overjoyed."

Bear grunted but picked up the limp body like a gentleman. The extra work would be good for him if he wanted to keep up with Crane. "At this rate we're going to need to start charging the Uchiha."

Crane shrugged. She didn't mind a little extra work. It wasn't often you got to stretch your legs pulling guard duty. Getting to clean up the occasional small potato was sort of relaxing. But they were both aware that any enemy nin that made it this far into the village was only a small potato as long as no one died. Guard duty was boring and safe right up until it really wasn't.

"I heard the new baby Uchiha is blind," she offered. Because if there was one thing all ANBU loved it was gossip.

Bear's mood brightened immediately. "I heard he doesn't know one end of kunai from the other and dropped one last week and almost took a finger off."

"I heard he set part of the compound on fire."

"I heard his mama came from Mist and that's why his chakra's all messed up."

"I heard some evil dark lord wants the boy dead and that's why he's hiding out here."

Bear shared a long look with her before they both started cackling.