"Takeshi-sama."

Holding back his heavy blue silk sleeve, Ryuuma Takeshi pointedly ignored the boy as he made a series of swift, firm brush strokes. After a minute of perusing his handiwork carefully, he finally sighs in satisfaction.

The young servant attentively waiting patiently observes his master set the writing brush down, covers the inkwell, and places the scroll to the left side of the low table to dry. He only spoke once the older man finally turned his head slightly to the right towards where he knelt. The boy recognizes this as a sign of consent. "There is a message from Yuudai-sama."

Takeshi's brows noticeably rose, wondering what could be so urgent that his brother had opted to send an oral message instead of a written one. If the servant would only raise his head a little and not bow so low he would see his master's brown eyes flicker with attentive curiosity.

"And what does my eldest brother have to say?"

"The messenger said, 'Tsukiko-sama has made a prediction. Shirou will be home soon. And it seems he will bring a guest.'"

"I see. Thank you. You are dismissed."

Bowing low once more, the boy scurries away leaving his master to his thoughts.

"A guest, huh?" Takeshi smiles to himself, wondering what kind of person his five-years-younger brother will bring.

Her eyes were completely black, Raiden notes, watching his new charge curiously take in the scenery outside their rented carriage. Such dark eyes were an exceptionally rare trait, and sure enough she was the only person he knew who possessed those uniquely-colored eyes.

And while in his opinion she was too pale he knew a lot of women who would do anything to have that perfectly smooth, white skin. He'd accidentally skimmed her shoulder with his fingers while he helped Shigure tend to her wounds. He could not get over it, not knowing if the velvety feeling was imagined or real since it happened in so brief a moment. While Shigure had turned away, and asleep as she was, defenceless and unaware, he caressed her. A ghost of a touch that she may have felt while she slept because he thought he heard her sigh.

Her eyes, her face, nothing about her was common, even the color of her hair, which was as black as coal. She was a living, breathing sculpture that would be near priceless in the black market. She would be sold as a doll, to be admired by men, envied by women. A doll emanating warmth, capable of making a man's fantasies in the bedroom come true.

He possesses an item that everyone will want.

He did not want to think of all the troublesome situations he'd have to deal with soon.

Despite how innocent she looked, he could tell that there was more to her than what can be outwardly perceived. There was something in the air that makes him frown, a dangerous secret perhaps.

"We're almost there," he announced. She glanced at him, acknowledging his words then turning her gaze back outside. It all happened in the span of two seconds.

Uncommunicative brat.

Raiden shifts forward, grasping Sasuke's chin with one hand and the other raking through her long hair, a habit Sasuke observed he fondly acquired. Her eyes narrowed at him questioningly, defiantly, and arrogantly all at once.

Obviously, seven days of travelling together did not do much to ease their relationship.

"You are completely without manners." He brought his mouth close to her ear. "I wonder what punishment befits such an ill-mannered girl."

He imagines Sasuke shiver and try to squirm away, which would only make him move closer, covering her with his larger body.

"What do you think?" He would purposely whisper directly at her ear, and as her hands fruitlessly push against him, his muscled arm will coil around her waist. Her mouth would open and close in surprise, then again with pleasure.

"Well, Sasuke?"

And when a strangled moan escapes her mouth he would nuzzle her ear, her neck. She would start to enjoy the light kisses down her neck, her jaw, and then…

"Let go." And suddenly Raiden finds himself staring at those dangerously enchanting almond-shaped eyes and reprimanding himself for his wild imaginations of kissing that pink mouth and sliding the white kimono top off those dainty, pale shoulders. He had briefly forgotten that she was only a child.

He immediately lets go of her chin and untangles his hand from her hair. Sasuke stares at him inquisitively, wondering why he backed down so easily today. When he did not move and made a bother to respond to her, she turns back to her window.

Silently bewildered, Raiden closes his eyes, promising himself a visit to a brothel as soon as they arrived at the village. He was obviously in desperate need to vent his sexual frustrations since he was having erotic fantasies just by looking at a little girl.

L ess than an hour later a huge red gate was in sight. Raiden peeks at Sasuke's perked up reaction and hid a suppressed smile. After two years, finally, he was home.

When they arrived, Sasuke noticed Raiden's immediate change of mood. The crease in his brow seemed to lighten and his mouth was almost smiling. He led her inside the gate, which was maybe about a hundred feet high. It was the south gate, he informed her earlier.

She followed two steps behind, watching the people, the buildings, the rest of the scenery. It was a beautiful village, probably as large as Konoha.

It was also a very far place, located even further than the Land of Water, away from shinobi control, where the hands of the recent war never reached, as if it existed in a different world altogether.

There was a strange feeling of security here that Sasuke had not felt in a long time, and as such she felt imbalanced at the difference between the life she just left behind and this new one she was trying to gain hold of.

She glanced at Raiden, watching his long blonde hair sway as he walked. For a complete stranger to offer her this chance, although she still does not have full confidence to become a new person, she was thankful. As they walked, she felt a calmness setting over her, easing the restlessness she has been holding on to her for many years.

Hopefully, she could stop living in the past, and instead walk toward a new future.

This was what Naruto, Sakura, and Kakashi tried to offer her for so long. If they knew that she had finally accepted, even if it was someone else's hand she took, maybe they would be happy for her. If she could only tell them, but perhaps it was better for Uchiha Sasuke to remain dead to them forever. If the illusion worked, a lifeless Sasuke would be the last thing Naruto saw, crushed under collapsed debris, and burned by wild fire.

It was all she left him. A cruel memory that would most likely haunt him for a long time. She would know how much one bad memory could make every waking day a living nightmare. To live, knowing he had killed the friend he had sworn to save… It would be painful.

To be strong enough to live through such pain… Naruto… He would be able to survive. Surely.


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Shirou: Means fourth son

Takeshi: Fierce; military; or warrior

Tsukiko: Moon child

Yuudai: Means great hero