A/N: Nothing much to say about this, except I've had this idea for awhile and now it is finished. I kept writing on it solely for entertainment purposes when I got bored.

Title: The Bird and The Snake

Author: Moi Fah

Genre: General/ Friendship/Drama

Crossover: Sailor Moon (AU) and Naruto

Version: Anime and Manga (respectively)

Rating: T

"Dammit...weak, all so weak..." murmured a dark-headed a boy, head hung low to the ground while he gasped for breath in both anger and exhaust. He remained crouched in his battle stance until the body standing eerily rigid before him fell silently over backwards, causing the dirt-covered floor to resound with a thudding cloud of dust upon impact.

The boy, or rather now, the teen was Sasuke Uchiha. A former ninja prodigy turned missing-nin, due in some part to the Sanin known as Orochimaru. The man had promised him power, an ultimate power that would undoubtedly destroy his older brother, Itachi, that had caused this whole mess in the first place. And so, here he remained every day after that...fighting hordes of endless enemies sent by Orochimaru himself (on the grounds that it would help keep the boy sharp) and dealing with the odd characters the Sanin had captured and confined to the laboratory that doubled as his home.

The teen pushed himself to walk forwards, still snarling at the barrage of thoughts that raced through his mind. Right now though, his current problem was more or less staring him in the face. The blade he had been using was flimsy from the beginning, but had finally snapped in half while lodging itself inside the last victim's throat. The damn thing hadn't even cut all the way through...it had merely gotten stuck, and when he tried to pull away, the damn thing just snapped.

"Very interesting this time, Sasuke," whispered the Sanin, carefully concealed by shadows in the corner of the room, "But perhaps you might do well to save some of that anger for your brother?" The man was obviously testing his patience, Sasuke decided and responded accordingly, "And maybe I wouldn't have to if you'd give me a better weapon than this. I'm still waiting on that 'power' of yours, you know? I'm beginning to think you've been bluffing the whole thing all this time...I could just as easily kill you now with this broken blade, Orochimaru."

The Sanin in full light was a tall, pale man. But as he was a 'body snatcher', no one could really gauge anything else about his looks...some days, he appeared very muscular-looking, while others he appeared very effeminate. "Boy...just who are you trying to scare with those hollow insults, hm? As you are now, I doubt you could even cut my hair with that pitiful blade work of yours."

Sasuke remained quiet this time, a scowling look still on his face. What was the point in argument? Of course he didn't believe that, but risking a premature conflict was the last thing he needed. Once he learned more about Itachi from this man, and anything to go on would be fine with him, Sasuke would off him and be done with it. No sense in hanging around here any longer.

If the Sanin had continued speaking, Sasuke hadn't heard a word of it until, "...fine. If you desire a new weapon so badly, then come with me." The snake-man smirked, showing off his reptilian features in doing so.

The teen's mind went blank as he followed the Sanin out of the room and down a hallway. True, this laboratory had been promised to him as home, meaning he was allowed access to wherever he pleased, whenever he pleased, but there was still many a place he hadn't inspected. Obviously, this was true though, as the place was unbelievably massive for just a simple 'laboratory'.

"A girl?" Sasuke looked up finally to take in his surrounding when the Sanin had left his sights, and now there was... "A girl?" he repeated, "I don't like jokes. Where is my weapon?" Sasuke asked angrily...why did everyone associated with him have to be so difficult? The Sanin laughed in response, although the sound came out low and 'hiss-y'. It's a good thing Sasuke was so quick on his feet,

"This little girl...is a weapon?" he'd referred to her as little due to her stature. Her chest was nearly non-existent, and the tank/tube she was in wasn't very concealing to begin with. "That's almost worth wondering about but I don't have time to get side-tracked here."

"Sasuke," the teen was slightly caught off guard at the serious nature of the Sanin's voice, "let me explain. The little girl there...yes, she is a weapon but she isn't quite ready yet. As a scientist of sorts," Sasuke noted the dark chuckling here, "I feel that it would be best for her to acquire some interaction with her new surroundings first...so as not to disturb anything."

Bastard, he's talking in riddles, Sasuke growled. He couldn't help but get angry at what he didn't understand, "So what does that have to do with me? Are you trying to suggest you want me to play with your science fair reject over there? I already told you, I don't have time for that."

"Sharp as usual," Orochimaru said, ignoring the majority of the boy's comment, "I fear she may become a ticking time bomb once she realizes she's so far away from home."

"The only way this little girl would have anything to do with me is if she was a curse-mark receiver. Is that what you're getting at? Feh, and what a cowardly way you have of doing things...kidnapping people while they sleep-"

"I'm afraid she was awake when she first arrived here, however," the snake-man explained, a noticeable glint in his eyes, "she just couldn't stop all that horrid screaming, so I had to silence her. And yes, to answer your statement, I have been debating on giving her our mark." Sasuke's stomach lurched at the way he said 'our'.

"..." Sasuke kept silent. There was nothing else he could find to discuss with this man. If she was truly as destructive as Orochimaru made her sound, just let him send her with a fighting ambition next time. That frail body would be cut to ribbons in a matter of seconds.

"Besides, Sasuke...if you're so against having her as training partner, perhaps you'd prefer her as a bed partner. After all, we want to make your stay here an enjoyable one." There it was again, that 'evil' glint in his eyes. Sasuke closed his head, and with a shake of his head, spoke up, "No thanks...I don't want your 'seconds'."

It was rare, but curiosity had gotten the better of him. After the Sanin had had his fill of laughs and fun provoking him, he'd finally taken his leave without much else of note. And Sasuke had busied himself with figuring out the 'lock' on this strange contraption...he'd only grant her freedom for a minute, then throw her back inside that tube. If he wasn't allowed to be free, why should anybody else get that chance?

When the glass encasing of the tube seemed to melt away, Sasuke knew he must have done something right. The girl fell out with a thud, very similar to the body of the idiot he'd killed earlier. The dark-haired teen walked slowly over to the small body...it remained motionless and unresponsive even after he knelt down, leading him to wonder if she'd suffocated in there or died of starvation. There was just no telling with that maniac. She looked healthy enough...if you considered a zombie healthy. Her skin was too pale to be enjoyable, and that mass of purplish-black hair didn't help her bit.

'Some great weapon she is...' Sasuke mused, turning her over on her back, 'I could slit her throat so easily right now. I could break her neck without even moving my wrist...' his mind continued to delve in this new 'power'. Being a ninja, he should have been used to having this killing leverage over people, but something was just different about her...about being right here with her, standing over her with broken blade in hand; poised to strike at any time. Although finally, she stirred.

Sasuke blinked hard, not being able to show much else emotion as the creature below him opened her eyeballs to reveal odd amethyst. Her eyes were all most mutant in appearance...like he was anyone to talk though. Perhaps this was what the Sanin meant? Perhaps dojutsu was her specialty. Obviously, those giant eyes noticed him first, namely his face. They trailed in every direction over his body until landing on the sword-in-hand, ready to strike. At that moment, Sasuke wished he'd never even bothered with the whole damn thing. The girl let out a terrible gasp and immediately reached her hands out to cling to him,

"Please..." she begged, sobbing into his shirt, "I...I-I can't be awake! Bad things are supposed to happen when I'm awake." And for a second there he figured she was bawling in an attempt to convince him to spare her life. This wasn't initially as bad as it seemed. "Please, you've got to help me go back to sleep. I don't...I don't..." she was sobbing too hard to even try and finish her sentence. Sasuke roughly snatched her hands and flung them away from his body, "What is your name?" If she wanted back in, she'd have to do a little something more for him.

"Please...please..." she kept repeating, very much like a broken toy, "I don't want to hurt you." That almost made him laugh, but not quite. "If I do though, I'm really sorry!"

"Look at me and tell me your name, dammit." Sasuke ordered, taking a hold of her shoulders to pull her back up to eye-level with him since she seemed so apparently hellbent on wallowing in the dirt. "My...my name? It's Hotaru." A lot of good that would do him since it was unfamiliar, but he'd found out that people were more willing to cooperate with you when you addressed them by name. Must have been the only reason he even bothered to remember Naruto's and Sakura's names at all.

"Now, Hotaru..." he paused to see if she'd ease up on that hideous blubbering; she didn't, and so he continued, "Can you tell why you were brought here?" Asking straight out what her kekkei genkai was all about seemed to lack a certain finesse. After all, if she was destructive as she was made out to be, she might have become suspicious and attacked. Another well-avoided premature conflict.

"Here?" she whimpered, wrapping her arms around herself. In doing this, she seemed to realize for the first time that she was nude, but couldn't find the willpower to be embarrassed about it. She looked around the place a little more...this place didn't seem familiar. Not really. "I don't know where I am." Sasuke growled internally. Did that bastard, when he supposedly 'silenced' her, cause her to have memory loss or something?

"You're in a laboratory. Does the name Orochimaru mean anything to you?" Might as well start throwing some ammunition at her.

She gasped, "Daddy?"

The teen felt his eye twitch, "What do you mean, 'Daddy'?"

"Well, you said laboratory...my daddy works in a laboratory."

"Sorry but you're a long ways from home."

"Then I still don't know where I am. I don't remember any 'Oro-person'." she paused her, at first seeming to have nothing else to say until she gasped loudly once more, "Unless it's..." Unknown to him, a vision of a pale-faced man flashed through the young girl's mind. Everything started to come back to her at once it seemed, "Oro...Orochimaru...?" she repeated, holding her forehead as if in a daze, slowly rocking back and forth on her knees where she'd been sitting, "No, not him...please, not him...not again, I don't...No!" Over she fell again, falling unconscious before even hitting the dirt-covered floor.

"Hm, I guess she does remember getting raped then," Yeah, he said it...but only because it was true. Unlucky for her, she didn't even get a curse mark or anything else out of it but pain and discomfort. "Oh well, back in the tube for you then." She's probably too emotionally scarred to do anything now, anyways, he decided. He'd heard of a lot of people turning basically into 'vegetables' when something particular heavy hit them hard. This seemed to be one of those moments.

Outside...it had been awhile since he'd since the light of day, considering most of the lab was secluded underground for obvious reasons. It was nice outside, so nice in fact, he hardly noticed the petite little girl coming into his peripheral vision.

"And what do you want?" He didn't remember, but the dark-haired girl did seem awfully familiar.

"You're Sasuke, right? Orochimaru-sama sent me out here to look for you." Great, he rolled his eyes. She was probably some lab assistant or something he'd seen somewhere before.

"If he wants me for anything, you go tell him that he can come out here." Sasuke answered back harshly, moving to lay on his back with his hands placed neatly behind his head for affect. If his eyes had been opened, he might have seen the negative shake of her head, "Oh no, it's nothing like that." she said meekly, a tinge of embarrassment on her cheeks, "He sent me out here to check on you and make sure you weren't trying to escape. He also told me to stay with you no matter what."

"What are you, some lap-dog or something? Who are you even?" He cracked an eye open, ready to read lips if he couldn't understand her speech. "You mean...you don't remember who I am?" He shook his head 'no',

"Should I?"

"But I told you my name in the laboratory. It's Hotaru." she said in the hopes of jogging his memory. Sasuke rolled his eyes; oh yeah, now he remembered. Here she was, finally, in all her destructive glory. It must have been the floral-print, purple kimono that told him she was anything but capable of causing massive destruction. At least she wasn't crying like last time, but if things kept going like they were, something told him water-works would be in store.

"Yeah, I know who are now. You're Hotaru," nothing new here, he was just repeating back to her to let her know that he'd heard her, "I thought you being awake was a bad thing?" Maybe it would make her mad enough to storm off or run away sobbing.

She gave a dainty sigh, giving off a fake-looking stretch of her arms and legs before joining him, beside him, in the same position. However, she found her arms getting tired and quickly moved them to her chest, "I've just accepted my fate, I suppose." That made him want to laugh.

"Oh yeah, and just what would that be?"

"Well, Orochimaru-sama described it to me perfectly. Because of my powers, I can never be allowed to see my friends or family ever again. If I even try to think of running away, he promised he'd find me wherever I went and slowly remove every vital organ inside my body. Oh, and then do the same thing to my family." Yep, that sounded like something that crazy-ass bastard would say. Sasuke could only reason he'd never heard this little trinket because he had no family...damn you, Itachi. Whenever he did find that man...

"Sasuke, is something wrong? I didn't mean to make you sick or anything, but that's really what he said."

"Heh, nothing's wrong with me. Sounds like you're pretty messed up in the head though if you're just going to submit like that. If he wants you for a...'destructive power', why the hell don't you just use it to get away then? Damn, it isn't that hard to think of."

"But...there would be other people that would get hurt along with it. Like you...and that nice white-haired man down in the Prisoner's Block." Did she mean Kimimaro?

"Well then, if you're that much of a saint, why the hell don't you just run away now? Or after he leaves? It's not like there are any appointed guards out here or booby traps...hell, he even trusted you this much to come outside and talk to me. What the hell is holding you back then? If you're that scared for your stupid family, why don't you just enlist the help of the ANBU or something to keep that damn snake away from them?"

"Sasuke," she interrupted, dammit, had he been rambling? What on Earth had made him rant like that? "Sasuke, you sound very angry about something. Are you in the same position as me then? What would...you do?"

"Same position? I don't have a family or friends...I need no crutch. I could leave any time I wanted to and I sure as hell wouldn't live in fear of that bastard. I'm only staying here to learn what I can. When that's done, I'll kill him and leave to look for my brother." Damn, he hadn't meant to slip-up by saying that little part. However, if she was curious, she didn't show it as she allowed the conversation to basically end there.

"You didn't answer my question, really. If you did want to run...if you really were like me...would you run away right now?" Sasuke was silent. He didn't have the nerve to answer that question.

"If I was a bird, I would definitely fly away from here though." That had been completely random although he figured she just couldn't stand the silence between them any longer. "Yeah," he said, not necessarily answering or agreeing with her. He was reminded of the Chunin Exams, where Naruto had informed him of the first match later on. Neji Hyuuga had made some endearing speech about birds and their freedom. Sasuke reasoned the Hyuuga was right...not many things on this Earth could come and go as they pleased, and go wherever they wanted to like birds could. "But you know, that's a lie too. I'm a bird right now, aren't I?"

Sasuke grunted, "Did he drug you this morning for experimentation or something?"

"No, of course not! What I mean is that...birds are supposed to be free, right?" He shrugged his shoulders, not caring either way especially since he'd just gone over that theory in his own head. "Well, the way I see it...I am a bird, but not a free one. I used to be able to spread my wings and live a free life. But now, I'm a caged bird. A caged bird isn't free to do anything at all but what its captor wants it do...like sing and do parlor tricks. Caged birds like us should stick together..." Hm, he hadn't thought about it that way before...Sasuke had to decide that both theories were right. But then again (the rational part of his mind was awake now), the whole point of this chatter was stupid. What were they accomplishing by discussing this? It made him mad to realize he'd wasted a good half hour out here talking with this girl about nothing; time he could have been using to train or learn something of Itachi's whereabouts.

Suddenly, Sasuke jolted up, "Oh yeah, well listen here 'birdie', I'm a snake and you know what that means? I'm evil. I could clip your wings permanently at any time if I wanted to." His mind was telling him that this stupid little girl was trying to get close to him again...why else would she have stayed and talked like this? This companionship or whatever was sorely beginning to remind him of Sakura and Naruto, and the time they'd spent together. Those days were over, and they were never coming back! Death to anyone who tried to convince him otherwise. "You fucking idiot," whether it was the use of utter foul language or the harsh tone, he wasn't sure, but Hotaru let out a sharp gasp, "haven't you realized yet that I don't want anything to do with you...so, why are you still here? I don't give a damn about you're stupid family or your newly fucked up life. Sounds to me like you don't think that anyone else has problems like you do."

"S-Sasuke..." she whimpered out as he paused to catch a good long breath, despite that fact that his chest was heaving up and down in anger. "I'm sor-" He cut her off as he lunged at her, hands extended until they finally wrapped around her throat. "You stupid bitch," he berated, "if you think for a moment you're going to-" he stopped as something wet hit his hand. It was a tear-drop. Of course she was crying, but this only angered him more and caused him to squeeze her throat even harder. It was a well-known fact by now...anyone that got close to him would die, painfully and in vain. If she was trying to get close to him, then by God he'd go ahead and finish the job instead of waiting for another maniac to come along and do the job. Best to end it now while he had absolutely no care, no feelings in his heart for this girl except apathy.

Hotaru weakly grabbed his wrists, but did not fight him as her brain was becoming weak from the lack of oxygen. "Sas...ke..." she breathed out, foolishly wasting what air she had left. It was just like the story, he thought then. The evil snake having tricked the beautiful girl into doing something forbidden...Sasuke had led her along in the attempt of conversation instead of telling to 'fuck off' like he normally would have done in the first place. The continued muddling of his thoughts was hard to keep under control, much less focus on his task at hand. He was swimming...no, drowning, that was a better word. At that moment, both teens were losing the abilities of their brains.

"Aaah!" A sharp pain, and a quick one. It forced his grasp on her to release, and him to fall backwards, absentmindedly staring at the cloudless sky overhead. The boy was so confused he couldn't decide what to tend to first: his shoulder that was in blaring pain or the destructive girl who might have already been dead across from him. His own pain first he decided, slowly turning his head to the right to find what had happened. A kunai was sticking out. It had obviously been thrown to force him off of the girl. Roughly and sharply, he tugged on the small weapon so hard it came out on the first try.

Looking around, he found her. Face red, dying down from the purple color it had been only moments ago, and tears appeared to be still rolling down her cheeks involuntarily. The pain was so immense after all...it was a forced cry. She shivered and shook every now and then, probably lying somewhere between here and eternity...or at least unconsciousness. Then, someone else's feet came into his view. Following the body up, a rather stupid and vacant look on his face, Sasuke saw Kabuto Yakushi with a cocky grin on his face. This sudden image was enough of a shock to cause Sasuke to regain his usual composure.

"Orochimaru-sama doesn't want her getting hurt, you know? Especially by you." Sasuke might have guessed as much. Everything was silent after that...no talking and or sounds of nature seemed to be heard. The purple-clad assistant calmly picked up the girl, careful not disturb anything thanks to his doctoral ways, and draped her over his shoulders. The two of them entered through the secret entrance of the lab and seemed to disappear before Sasuke's eyes. Climbing to his feet, he followed suit. Only, after he reached the inside, he took off in the opposite direction towards his room.

Hotaru was awake now. She wasn't in perfect condition, mind you, but she'd regained the power to sit up straight and form coherent, although hoarse and raspy sentences. She had awoken inside room that was vaguely familiar...it was Orochimaru's personal chambers, but she couldn't quite grasp why they were so familiar. Even now, the Sanin was resting comfortably in here whilst talking to her about Sasuke's behavior.

"Aw, poor thing. He managed to even make those ugly marks on her neck." This was mainly what she caught from him as she sat very still in her own corner of the room. Her head was so muddled with thoughts, it almost blocked out the pain she was still feeling from her neck. Breathing in and out was an unfortunate reminder of this. And yes, it was true...two identical bruises in the shape of hand prints now adorned her neck on either side.

But all Hotaru could really keep her mind focused on was Sasuke. He seemed so interesting, yet pained...She still couldn't even figure what she'd said or done that had made him so unbelievably upset. Had it been the family comment? He said that he hadn't any family or friends, but surely there wasn't anyone like that...no one that was truly alone. All in all, she'd have to go and apologize to him even if that meant putting her life at risk again. Obviously, he was feeling as much stress, confusion, and every other emotion that was possible at that moment. She didn't blame him for anything.

"S-Sasuke..." she whispered, moving to open the door silently and slowly. She didn't want to alert him with her presence and possibly scare him. She also didn't want him to immediately push past her once he realized who had come calling on him. "I'd like to apologize for what I said earlier." her sentences were still weak and hoarse sounding, but they were noticeably better from before. Luckily, she'd always been a pretty fast healer.

"To apologize?" There he went, running his mouth off again when he should have just ignored her. What was it about her that provoked this urge in him to speak with her? Sasuke hadn't felt any immediate companionship or ties with this girl, and still didn't at this time. Sure she was odd-looking and seemed to have a story to tell, but so did every other freak in this laboratory...including him. "You want to apologize for me almost choking you to death? You know, I could have broken the bones in your neck just as easily." He didn't want her thinking he had been going 'easy' on her or anything.

Hotaru just wasn't the type of person to blurt out, '...but you didn't'. This didn't stop her from thinking it though. Instead, she opened the door a little more only to see that Sasuke had positioned himself on the far side of the room...a glinting sword lay across his lap, visible from the surrounding fire light's glow. "I wanted to apologize for talking about my family if that's what made you upset. Orochimaru told me everything," okay, well most it she was hoping to squeeze out of Sasuke himself.

"Oh, really? Nice to know the Sanin's hobby is gossiping." he retorted back, eyes bolted to the dirt-encrusted floor below him. "So, what...you want to help me look for my brother or something as way to make it up? Better watch out...he might come and kill your family too." Hotaru was smart enough to piece all that together to make a story.

"Only if you want me to Sasuke. Um, what was his name again?"


'Weasel?' That was an interesting name for someone but she supposed it must have fit his personality given all the terrible thing he'd been credited for. If Sasuke had planned on responding to her other statement, he didn't appear to be in a big rush.

"Uh, one last question, Sasuke..."

"... ..."

"You told me earlier that you were a snake...are you really planning on becoming like that man? I'm not sure, but something inside me is telling me he's a bad person, and it's not just because of his threats. I mean, it's something deeper than that...darker. I don't know much about you, and maybe, you're already half-way there, but if my first impression of you was right then you don't belong here. You belong back at home, living a normal life."

"I'm not a snake." So simple, and yet he had answered the most important part of her ramblings. "If anything, I'm more like a worm. I crawl away to try to save my own life...to try to save myself, I guess. But then again what the fuck do you care? It's not like you even understand what I'm talking about."

"I'd love to learn if you'll tell me."

Yeah, he'd bet his soul she would...goody two-shoes. "When my parents died, I didn't do a thing to try to stop my brother Itachi. I crawled away from it like a worm...it may not have physically, but I still didn't do a thing." Why was it so easy to talk to her? Maybe because something inside of him was saying that even if she had been judgmental, it wouldn't have made a difference.

"Well, I'm sure there wasn't anything you could have done at that time..." it was the best she could offer, seeing as she hadn't been there to witness the sight herself.

"That was a very typical response." She wanted to apologize again, but Sasuke wouldn't let her.

"I'll always be a worm though. Always crawling away from something I think would hinder me. I did the same thing to my friends when I left my village. After I kill that Sanin, I suppose I'll just keep crawling until I find Itachi."

"So...that's just it? Once you find your brother and kill him...what? You'll just roll over and die too?"

"If I feel like it. It's not your choice on what I do with the rest of my life." he shot back.

"Yes it is!" she retorted bravely, "I consider myself your friend even if you don't consider me, and that's why I want you to reconsider this. I'm not trying to say don't kill the man, obviously that's none of my business. But haven't you even thought of what to do afterwards? Where you'll go? What about those friends you left behind? Can't you just go back to them? You know as well I do that they're missing you like crazy right now! Would you just hurry and kill that snake man so we can get out of here?!" Hotaru gasped and clapped her hands over her mouth. She couldn't believe what had just come out of her mouth, and at such a loud volume too. Sasuke, on the other hand, was as just as wide-eyed as she was. The two teens stayed that way for a moment, in the silence with not even a rustle. Finally, Sasuke burst out with a laugh...a laugh that sounded a bit too close on the demonic side.

"That was a bit unexpected," he must have been going crazy he reasoned. Laughing like that for no reason...then again, seeing her act violent was not something he'd come to expect. He rather liked this, although fleeting, destructive nature of hers. The teen slowly rose to his feet, "Well, sorry, I didn't realize I was keeping you waiting. I suppose I should go and do the job then, huh?" he questioned, sheathing the sword he'd held in his lap.

Hotaru was just as still and quiet as she had been. She dared not speak for something might have come out wrong...oh hell, she was just plain confused. "Sasuke!" she called out to him, turning around to see the boy as he'd already quickly glided to the door. "Are you...do you think you're strong enough to do it? To kill him?"

"Why? You want to help?" It took her only a moment or two, but nodded at him with a diminutive frown, eyes downcast.

"He's trying to turn my friend evil, of course I want to kill him." Sasuke smiled to himself. This new destructive Hotaru was turning out to be someone he liked. "So, before we rush into things...what exactly can you do?"

"Oh!" Hotaru gasped suddenly, but for what reason he wasn't quite sure of. "Um, well, I'm really good with pole-arm weapons. And, I'm also a good healer." So, she was still keeping quiet about that destructive power, eh? Well, let it be a surprise then. This might turn out to be the one surprise he'd enjoy getting.

"Alright, fine. I guess you can tag along with me, but remember...the Sanin's head is mine. You're on healing orders for right now." she nodded with a smile...it felt good to be needed in helping to preserve life once more.

"So, Sasuke..." Hotaru decided to strike up a conversation, despite the fact the two might have been headed to their ultimate demise. It was a strange feeling that overwhelmed them as they walked...it was weightless, almost a floating type of feeling. "After you kill Orochimaru, what will we do next?" He obviously took note of her emphasis on the words before answering,

"Simple, we look for Itachi." He kept it short because he was thinking...battle strategies and whatnot.

"All by ourselves?" Hotaru blushed, her hands moving up to cover her cheeks and his view of the red rising up into them.

"I've thought about that. I'm sure Orochimaru is hiding some pretty useful minions around this place. We'll just have to have a look around once all is said and done." Hotaru thought to ask if she might be even more useful by going on ahead to look for valuable teammates. Sasuke shot her down immediately though, because even he himself wasn't quite sure what he needed in a team yet. Obviously, a healer would have been his first choice, and here she was blathering away into his ear. He simply told her he needed her healing for the upcoming fight.

The two were quiet for a moment, walking at a slow pace as to not let on to anyone that they had been planning an attack. Sasuke knew it wouldn't last long seeing as there was a female in his presence. He was right.

"Sasuke, I've been thinking about something."

"More ways to interrupt my thoughts?"

"Uh, no...what I mean is, I've been thinking about the future again. Say we do find a team, and we all become really good friends-"

"I don't want friends, I want strong allies."

"Let me finish, please. Say we did make a good team and became good friends. After we, I mean, you kill Itachi...is it impossible to think that we might, uh...you know, all live together afterwards like a big family?"

"'Thought you had a family you needed to get home to."

"I do, but...if you kill Orochimaru and Itachi, that will make you a criminal simply for murder, right? And if I and our future teammates are accomplices, then that makes us criminals too. All we'd have would be each other...and that would be okay, right?" she gasped again, apparently having had another marvelous idea, "And you're friends! We, I mean, They could even come and visit us! My friends too! I'm sure finding a house wouldn't be that hard, and even building one isn't that absurd to think about."

"Well...you certainly thought that out." Half of him of was saying it stupid and that it would never work, and the other of half of him that still happened to hold Naruto and Sakura dear, thought it was the best plan in the world even if they hadn't even gotten past phase one of the plan. There were a million things that could go wrong with that plan, many so obvious he didn't even feel the need to point them out. "So, what do you think? It wouldn't hurt to be a 'little' prepared for the future, right?"

Sasuke sighed, "Sure, I guess. Whatever you say..." he sighed wistfully, then reprimanded himself with a cough as soon as he realized. "Let's just try to stay focus on the task at hand, alright? So, here's the plan..."

Yep, that's the end right there. This didn't exactly turn out like I had planned, but then again, nothing ever does. I wanted the ending to be more-open ended. As most people should know Sasuke kills Orochimaru, but its up to you whether to believe Sasuke and 'the team' after beating Itachi even considered becoming one big family. For my ahead-manga readers, you should know what's happening but we can use our imaginations, right?

And yes, most are probably wondering...did she really just write another story about a character she hates in a coupling she hates even more? Yes, I did. Sasuke was the best choice for the story even if I can't stand his guts.