DISCLAIMER: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters (But the OCs are mine!)
Webs of Deception
Sasuke walked slowly through the crowds of Konohagakure, his hands deep in his pockets. He kept his unfocused, emotionless eyes forward, expertly blocking out the lust filled gazes and the heated glares directed at him. They were a part of his life that he didn't want to acknowledge. Nothing but a single thought that only increases in ignored emotions as time goes on. It's been six years. . . The solemnness in his mind nothing but jagged slivers of what was.
Of what used to be Team Seven. When the cell was an actual team, before what kept them together left for a mission and never returned. Leaving a gaping, tattered, and dank hole where once held his heart. He admitted to himself—when he was younger—that he had fallen in love with his male teammate. His Dobe. He was just drawn to that bundle of energy; to the other's bright personality. Even if half of it was only facade, the other half wasn't. The half he frequently saw was purely the Dobe.
Naruto eased his loneliness with his unique friendship. He actually saw him, not the last surviving heir to the Uchiha clan. He acknowledged who he was and acknowledged his strength. He was his best friend and rival. . .Then in one night that changed everything, he became his lover. Those few hours of passion that he would never forget. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't erase the events from his memory. This made the blond's disappearance tear far more brutally at his heart, snatching what was left of him and leaving him as an empty shell with nothing left to hold on to.
Soon after Naruto disappeared, Sakura and himself were entered into the Chuunin Exams with a new teammate named, Sai. He was meant to replace Naruto, but for Sasuke, nothing would ever be the same without the blond boy. And the way Sakura reacted, he knew she felt the same. It surprised him really. Sakura took Naruto's disappearance pretty hard. She cried for weeks because she seemed to blame herself for not being nicer to the blond. Quickly after that, her fan girl crush dissipated.
If the blond's disappearance affected Kakashi any, he didn't show it. Well, he didn't show it in front of his remaining students anyway, but he was always the first to volunteer to search for Naruto. Yet, each time Kakashi returned, he returned with the same response, destroying a little more of Sasuke's hope each time.
During the Exams was when he first met Orochimaru and received the curse seal. Then a couple of months later, he defected from Konoha and went to Oto. Nobody bothered to try to stop him, he hadn't really expected any of them to. There was nothing left in him to care either way, because there was nothing left for him in Konoha.
The one person he fell in love with was gone, making Konoha a mere shell of what it used to be. Just like himself. Now, he steeled his heart away behind unbreakable walls which protected him from the pain he knew was still lingering just beyond the steel barriers.
Three years later, he had become stronger; thanks to Orochimaru's strenuous training. Too bad though, he had no intentions of letting that snake take over his body in any way. Not when it already belonged to someone else. He killed Orochimaru and Kabuto with techniques that the two taught him, which gave him some satisfaction. After that, when he began to travel around, he debated with himself on whether to return to Konoha or find and kill his brother, Itachi.
It was that small nagging hope in his heart that guided his feet back to his home village. Only to learn quite quickly that Naruto wasn't there, nor has there been any sight of him either. That knowledge though, wasn't what sent the steel walls around his heart crashing down and let the excruciating pain to stab sharply through his heart. What sent his walls crumbling like rice paper was the fact that Konoha had put Naruto's name on the memorial stone, confirming that he would never see the blond ever again.
And for the first time since the blond's disappearance, he cried. . . He cried out the pain and loss he'd been holding in for the past years.
After returning, the punishment he received was a year of house arrest and then another year of probation after that. The Godaime Hokage wanted to have him executed, but the council members wished to keep the last surviving member of the Uchiha clan alive for breeding purposes. That was a laughing matter to Sasuke, he had no intentions of ever rebuilding his clan. He couldn't even imagine touching anyone else; it only caused him to become nauseous. Though the council didn't need to know that, since if they had, the old fools probably wouldn't have been so lenient.
Over the next few years, he worked up to become an Anbu Captain, hardly ever seeing nor speaking with Kakashi or Sakura. As for the rest of the rookie nine, Team Gai and half of the shinobi ignored him like the plaque; like he was on the verge of betraying the village everyday. This didn't bother him in the least, sending the term ice prince to a whole new level. He only spoke with others when it was necessary and ignored everyone else.
Trying not to think of the past, he arrived at the training grounds and was about to start practicing his aim when a Bear masked Anbu appeared to his left. He took a small glance over at the Anbu, recognizing immediately that the person underneath the mask was Hyuuga Neji.
"Taichou," spoke Neji in a low and even tone. "Hokage-sama wants to see you in her office." He then disappeared, already knowing he wouldn't have gotten any kind of response from him.
Sasuke placed the kunai he had taken out, back into his weapons pouch. Then disappeared from the grounds and reappeared in front of the Hokage's desk. Where Tsunade, the current Hokage, was writing on an outstretched scroll.
"You wanted to see me, Hokage-sama," he said flatly without any emotion.
Tsunade didn't answer or even acknowledge his presence, not until another person appeared in the office. This person happened to be his ex-teammate, Haruno Sakura. Her bright pink hair was pulled back in a tight bun with the strands framing her face, and she was clad in her Anbu uniform with her mask hanging from her hip.
"Ah, good," said Tsunade with her attention fully on Sakura. Her dislike for him was well known throughout the village. "I have a mission for you two."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sakura glance over at him and send a small glare his way. The two had stopped getting along after Naruto disappeared, and since he betrayed the village they got along even less. More like not at all.
"What kind of mission, Shishou?" Sakura asked, also ignoring his presence.
"I want you two to hunt down and give this scroll to Tatsuo and his team." Indicating the scroll she was presently writing on.
"You mean the dangerous mercenary team Akuma?" Sakura asked with disbelief resounding in her voice.
Tsunade nodded her head, not lifting her gaze from what she was writing. "Yes, I do. With the war that is going on, I need there help."
"Do you think they'll actually help?"
The Hokage lifted her head then and gave the pink haired kunoichi a knowing smile. "Yes," she said. "Because Tatsuo has a promise to keep."
All the while, Sasuke remained silent, barely listening to what the two had to say. Which wasn't really a big surprise since he preferred it that way. His mind was fully on a memory of a previous meeting when he actually met with this Tatsuo.
Within a dense forest miles away from Konoha, a fifteen year old Sasuke was heading back to Orochimaru's hideout after a short mission that he was assigned to. His pace was slow, apprehension about returning to the presence of that snake settling in his stomach. He stopped and focused his eyes in front of him; the presence of five shinobi heading in his direction. He wasn't worried though, this was just another opportunity to become stronger.
A moment later, the group emerged from the trees and stood in front of him. All five were wearing identical black cloaks with different animal masks like the Anbu covering each of there faces. From left to right they stood side by side; a Dragon, a Dog, a Fox, a Weasel and a Tiger.
Something fluttered in his stomach at the sight of the Fox man, but he purposely chose to ignore it. In one swift movement, he pulled out his Kusanagi and positioned himself into a fighting stance.
"We have no interest in fighting with you," spoke the Fox masked man.
Sasuke gave the group an emotionless smirk. "You have no choice."
Dragon tilted his head to the Fox, chuckling low underneath his mask. "He's a foolish one, isn't he?"
Sasuke glared at Dragon, annoyed that he dared to underestimate him. He saw Weasel lean to Fox, whispering something under his breath to him. Fox shook his head at whatever the other said and whispered something back to the other. Weasel nodded and then Fox walked forward.
"I'll be your opponent," he said as he began to walk closer to Sasuke. His next comment directed to his team. "And none of you interfere."
Fox stopped a yard away from Sasuke. "I hope that snake's teachings were worth betraying your village, Uchiha Sasuke." Fox sneered at the Uchiha, who glared back with equal intensity. His mind wondering how a complete stranger knew his situation.
"I try to keep up with what's happening in Konoha," Fox said, answering Sasuke's unspoken speculation. "And it's become common knowledge that the surviving Uchiha went to become the toy of Orochimaru." Contempt within every word the man spoke.
Sasuke was pissed. He didn't even know this guy and he was clearly passing judgment on him. He spoke with a superior tone as if he knew everything there was about him and had the right to say it. Bullshit. He knows nothing. Absolutely nothing about him. Sasuke lunged forward and swiped his sword at the Fox.
Fox didn't give any attempt to dodge, instead he lifted his arm and blocked the Kusanagi with a dagger that suddenly appeared.
"Kusanagi, glass cutter." Fox began when Sasuke's confusion apparently crossed his face. "Suppose to be able to cut through anything. Unless the object is made impossible to break." Another dagger appeared in his other hand, swiping it at Sasuke.
Sasuke jumped back to avoid being struck and formed hand seals within a blink of an eye. Senbon formed from lightning came into existence around him, then shot like bullets at his Fox wearing opponent.
Fox jumped and flipped through the air, agilely dodging the threats of senbons. He landed on a nearby tree branch. "Cute," he said loud enough for him to hear as his left hand lifted and grabbed a crystal bead from a bracelet around his wrist.
The one that wore the Weasel mask moved, catching Sasuke's attention momentarily from the fight at hand. Weasel turned to the others and told them, "I think it's best for us to put some distance between them and us. It's going to become quite destructive." This confused Sasuke further with what the hell the bead did. And he only wondered further when the others nodded there heads and followed Weasel to the farthest edge of the trees. Where they could still see and apparently be safe from whatever the bead did.
He turned his full attention back at Fox, who was throwing the crystal bead up in the air and catching it; repeating this action over and over as he stared at him intently. He knew this because of the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end.
Why was he hesitating in attacking?
He could have already thrown that stupid bead with how much time he was just squatting there and staring. Then, like Fox made a sudden decision, he threw the bead as close as he could to Sasuke. Who eyed the bead closely, speculating further why all of them were so confident in a fucking bead. He took a couple of cautious steps back though, not lowering his guard just because of the simplicity of an attack.
Once the bead made contact with the ground, an enormous futon-chakra exploded throughout the area. The ground shook violently, cracks splitting the ground and creating a crater of a radius of ten feet. The force of the explosion that released hurricane forced winds pushed over all the surrounding trees and sent Sasuke soaring back a good fifty feet.
Blackness invaded his vision, blinding him for a time he wasn't sure of. Before he could muster the strength to open his eyes, his ears caught the sound of rustling next to him. He fought to keep consciousness for the mere sake of not letting them get the best of him, but he knew it was a losing battle. He was as sure as dead. And that knowledge didn't bother him in the slightest. It was actually welcomed.
"You don't think I hurt him too badly?" came the voice of the one he labeled Fox, sounding almost frantic to his hearing. He could even recognize worry there too.
Now why would he sound like that?
"He's alive," the flat tone of Weasel said. "If these injuries kill him, then. . ."
"Then he damn well isn't an Uchiha!" yelled a new voice he hadn't heard before now. Then the distinct sound of a hit connecting with flesh followed after the rude comment.
"But he could need medial attention," said Fox with that same concern mixed with the franticness. "What if he has internal injuries? Tara?"
Someone sighed and the next thing he knew a person got too close to him than he personally liked. Then a warm tingling sensation filled his body. It only happened for what seemed like a minute before it disappeared and a female voice said, "The only internal damage I found was to his ribs that were pressed too closely to his lungs. I healed them just enough so when he's able to stand, it won't press any further to pierce his lungs."
Another sound was heard; almost sounding like it was because of relief."Thanks, Tara," said Fox.
The weariness the damage to his body pushed him further into unconsciousness. The voice of Weasel became very distance as he said, "Now lets go before he gets enough strength to move. You don't want to hurt him again, now do you Naruto?"
The name of his Dobe was the last thing that went through his mind before he drifted completely into unconsciousness.
To this day, he still doesn't know exactly know what happened. Or if what he thought he heard was his mind playing with him in a time where he thought he was going to die. Actually, he thought he was dead, until he regained consciousness in the exact same place where he lost it. Only to find that he was alone and that whoever that team was, were long gone.
Once he managed to get back to the hideout of Orochimaru's, the snake told him that the team he fought was actually Akuma; the deadliest mercenary team. And that the man who wore the Fox mask was non-other than the leader, Tatsuo. This surprised him. Back then, he had already heard the rumors about Akuma and there ruthless acts. This only made him speculate further as to why they had even let him live?
"When do you want us to leave?" Sakura asked. Her voice snapping Sasuke out of his thoughts.
"Since, this might take weeks, even months to find them, I want you to leave within the next twenty minutes." She looked up at the two. "That means I want you two back here all packed for a six month mission and out of the front gates within that time. Do I make myself clear?"
They both nodded at once before they disappeared in similar clouds of smoke.
Within ten minutes, both Sakura and himself were back in front of the Hokage's desk with packed backpacks hanging on their backs. After a moments passing, Tsunade lifted her arm with the scroll she was previously writing on in his direction. He stepped forward and received the scroll from her, stashing it away in his backpack without a word.
This was of the norm with the both of them. Neither wished to speak more than they had to, to one another. The same was valid for Sakura and himself, and possibly most of the Konoha shinobi population.
"Now, get out of my sight," she said with a wave of her hand. "I want them back here as soon as possible."
Sakura nodded, "Yes, Shishou."
Sasuke merely disappeared without the customary pleasantries that occurs with normal associates, then reappeared outside of the closed gates of Konoha. Where he didn't feel as imprisoned as he did whenever he forced himself to return within the walls of the village. Out here his chains were lighter and less constricting. He was able to move without his every movement being watched and judged. Being out here was just less aggravating.
His momentary peace and quiet was interrupted with the appearance of his partner and her ability to speak.
"If I have to be near you for possible months on end, then we're going to do this my way," she practically ordered, half sounding like she was expecting to get some sort of reaction out of him. But all she received from him was a blank stare. "Well, I think we should head to Iwagakure first. Supposedly, Akuma was last seen there doing some kind of mission. After we check and if they're not there, then we can move on from there."
Sasuke didn't reply to anything she said, instead he sped in the direction of Iwagakure, not caring if his temporary partner was by his side or if she could keep up or not. It would be too much trouble to bother to. Plus, it would show that he cared when in all actuality. . .he didn't.
Sakura mentally growled at his back, running over a thousand ways she could inflict pain on the raven. She could barely keep up with his high speed, but she absolutely refused to ask him to slow down. That would be like willingly admitting defeat to the arrogant bastard. And she would rather have herself boiled alive before she did such a thing.
A couple of hours later of non-stop running, and she was so tempted to throw a few kunai into that ass's legs. She could clearly visualize how it would go down, but there was a minor flaw in her thoroughly thought out plan. She doubted she would come out as the victor like in her fantasy. That was the only part that seemed a little unrealistic. Plus, there were the repercussions of her actions. Like being arrested by Konoha authorities for the illegal offense of attacking her Taichou. It definitely wouldn't be the smartest move, but it sure as hell was tempting.
Sasuke suddenly halted in a well hidden clearing. Sakura stopped half a minute later, since she was a good distance behind, and panted to catch her breath from the heavy exertion her body was forcibly been put through.
"We'll rest here," Sasuke said. "I'll take first watch." He jumped high into a tree before she could have a chance to argue.
She sent a glare full of venom to where she knew the Uchiha was stationed, grudgingly plopping herself on the ground and leaning against the tree she sat in front of. She pulled her legs up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them and rested her chin on her knees to poorly shield herself from the chilly night air.
Vaguely, she stared in front of her, her thoughts wandering back to the time where Team Seven actually existed. When her feelings for her raven ex-teammate weren't so negative. When she was a stupid obsessive fan girl when in reality she liked Naruto and not Sasuke. She only thought of Sasuke as a friend, but she kept up her facade because she stupidly cared what others thought of her. And for some reason, the villagers hated the blond and she never could understand why.
At some point, she asked her parents—who also seemed to hate the blond—why they disliked him so much, but she didn't get an answer. All they did was just sputtered and kept quiet. So, she continued with her show of annoyance and dislike toward Naruto, not wishing for her parents to get upset with her or be considered weird by her peers.
But when the blond disappeared, she was heartbroken. She blamed herself for caring more about what everyone thought and not being brave enough to show her true feelings for the boy she liked. She also blamed Sasuke for being so contradicting. For being such a bastard toward Naruto and yet loving him at the same time. It ranked third to the most painful things she's every heard. The second was when Kakashi told them about Naruto's disappearance, and the first was when she found out that Naruto was also in love with Sasuke and not herself.
All those time the blond asked her out weren't real. All those feelings he claimed he held for her were all lies. All these facts smacked her heart brutally each time and made her bitter. . .
Even though she didn't like the raven, she was still civil to him. He was still her teammate after all. They trained together and took the Chuunin Exams with there new teammate, Sai. But when Sasuke left for Oto, the reason why she disliked him changed drastically. Since then, it wasn't because of some crush, but because he betrayed Konoha, everyone in it and everyone who once lived in the village. Her dislike brutally turned into hatred the day he willingly went to Orochimaru.
During the three years that Sasuke was gone, she became the student to Tsunade, strengthening herself so she could become the best medic nin that she could be. She also found someone she let into her heart to fill in the dank hole that's been empty since Team Seven, and truly fell in love with him. She even made sure she ignored the words of others who tried to deter her from her now husband. She promised herself once that she wouldn't let the opinion of others decide her decisions in life. And she stuck with it since that promise day.
When Sasuke returned and she got word of it, she sought him out and deliberately approached him. She stared at him blankly for a long moment, he did the same back to her without moving like a prick. Then. . .she punch him without any sort of warning. She remembered that he flinched, which told her that he could have avoided the blow if he really wanted to, but strangely enough, he didn't. Instead, he was sent crashing through two walls, ending with a brutal hit with the third. His unmoving didn't surprise her because she honestly didn't care, but what did was that he stood up after the blow with ease. . .and smirked at her.
She would never admit it to anyone, but it frightened her a little that he appeared so unaffected by the normally fatal attack.
After that encounter, she didn't speak to him at all over the year of his house arrest. Then once he was reinstated as a shinobi she still didn't speak to him sociably, only when it was a requirement. And as the years passed, her feelings toward him have never changed or even softened. Sasuke would always be considered a traitor to her and nothing more. . .
Her eyes began to droop as her mind turned fuzzy from the oncoming sleep. Her eyes closed completely and she drifted further into unconsciousness.
Meanwhile, Sasuke sat up in a high branch with his back leaning against the tree truck. His Sharingan was activated and he glanced at anything that moved. His whole body was on high alert and ready to attack if any possible threat arose. This was a time of war, after all—attacks were common nowadays. If a team didn't get attacked during a mission, it was considered extremely odd or down right lucky. Although, it never happened more than twice to the same team.
After a hour, his vision wandered to the sparkling stars littering the night sky. He couldn't pull his eyes away as his mind brought up the memory of the time when Team Seven had done the exact same thing. . .
Side by side, Team Seven laid on a grassy clearing, staring up at the starry night sky. They were presently on a team outing; camping to be more precise. And after a full day of hiking, setting up the tent, gathering firewood, catching food and fixing dinner; they got to relax. So Naruto had the idea to gaze at the stars while they relaxed. Sakura happily agreed while he gave his usual remark of 'Hmn', his way of agreeing.
"Ne, Kakashi-sensei, do you think that stars are people who've died?" Naruto asked, not taking his eyes from the mystifying sky.
Kakashi wasn't the one who answered, since Sasuke beat the man to it. "No, idiot."
Naruto turned on his side to face him, since he laid to the blond's right. "And how would you know that, Teme?"
He glared at the blond, ready to give him the scientific answer, but Sakura interrupted him while he was opening his mouth. "I think it sounds nice, even if it's not real," she said. "To think that your loved ones that passed away are staring down at you and watching over you. It's a whole different perspective at how you can view the stars."
Sasuke found himself considering this perspective. He had to admit, he slightly liked the idea of his family watching over him. "I guess you could think of it that way," he admitted in a murmured.
Naruto turned partly to Sasuke at his comment with a smile, then rolled on his other side to Sakura. "Thanks Sakura-chan! My thoughts exactly!"
Sasuke continued to stare at the separate stars, searching through them for the brightest one. The one that shined the most to him. Once he found the one, he wondered if a certain blond angel could see him right now. Are you watching over me, Naruto. . .?