AN: Hola, people! ^.^ So, I wrote this chapter out on paper, and decided to get onto updating! So, here you are! Read and Review, plez! Oh yes, and I now know that Suigetsu didn't have his sword when he and Juugo escaped the samurai, but, whatever; my story is different!

I turn to Suigetsu and Karin. The light haired male is grinning at me in his shark-like way while Karin is holding her glasses to her head, staring me down. Both of them are silent, waiting for me to say something. I guess I wouldn't know what to say either if the situation was reversed; I had just witnessed my family members disintegrate before me after all. That was some pretty heavy stuff.

I inhale through my nose and close my eyes for a moment, needing a moment to collect myself, before speaking in a soft voice, "I'm done here. I'm going to help Kakashi's group take down the seven swordsmen of the Mist." I'd heard earlier from the comms unit about all of the fights going on that needed reinforcements but I'd paid them no mind on my own personal quest. But, now is the time to help others.

At the mention of the swordsmen, Suigetsu's eyes light up. That much didn't pass me, and neither did the slight twitch his hand made near his side. He must be excited; his goal is to capture al of the swordsmen's blades. Personally, I don' know how he'd manage to carry them all at one time, but what do I know?

"I'll come with, see if I can't catch up with my brother, Mangetsu," the teen says with a sharp grin. I'd totally forgotten that his elder brother had been a part of the seven swordsmen.

"Are you coming?" I ask, directing the question at Karin.

The red head ponders this for a moment, then nods. We all share a small look of different variety; Karin a little uneasy, Suigetsu with his usual smirk, and I with a serene expression. We blink in unison, then head out to back up Kakashi's group.

We don't get far before Suigetsu is basking if we can rest, just like old times when we were a part of Taka.

I stand patiently on my tree limb, but Karin sighs loudly with both hands on her hips. "Man, Suigetsu! Have you still not gotten used to the weight of that sword?"

Suigetsu chuckles, rising up to his full height and wears an expression I'm a little weary of.

"I have actually," he says, looking both of us over, "I just wanted this time to get my full strength back. That fight with Popori-san's relatives was draining."

Karin huffs indignantly, "You had plenty of time to rest after the fight!" She scrunches up her nose, glances at me, then back to him. "You aren't lying, though. I can sense it in your chakras…" She glares at Suigetsu for a moment longer before he smirks and lunges at her.

Karin gasps as the metal of my stealth knife and Suigetsu's blade collide with one another, making a loud tink sound that echoes through the trees around us. The shark and I push at each other until we both fly backwards. I land at the base of a tree, crouching with one hand on my knee and the other holding the stealth knife in front of my face. Suigetsu flips backwards in the air and lands safely on a tree branch far away from Karin and myself. I glance at the female, then push off from my spot on the tree and land near her.

With me near to protect her, Karin regains her nerve. She glares at Suigetsu and raises a fist at him. "What the hell? Why'd you attack me, Fish face?"

Suigetsu chuckles darkly, changing his stance to an offensive one. "Sorry, but I can't let you help whoever Kakashi is defeat the swordsmen. That's my job. And, anyway, I promised someone that I wouldn't let Popori-san get too banged up." His smirk widens, making my stomach churn. "He says he wants the honor of doing that himself."

I narrow my eyes at the male in front of me, my grip on my weapon tightening until my knuckles turn white. Who could he be talking about? He's been in the Leaf everyday since my team took him and Juugo from the samurai. The only time he's been alone is when this war started – and even that hasn't been very long. Who could he be talking about? I intake a sharp breath then bare my teeth at him.

"Shut up with your nonsense! If you want to fight the swordsmen, then let's go. We don't have time for this." I'm about to add a huff to broadcast my annoyance, when something comes soaring towards me.

I use my stealth knife to deflect the shuriken, the metal star sticking into the tree in front of Karin's face, making her jump. I look in the direction the throwing star came from and almost faint. I hear Karin whimper behind me, and her legs have started to shiver, shaking the branch beneath us.

Those eyes. It's amazing how much more frightening they are now than when I last saw them. The red seem to be even more luminous, making me want to curl up in a ball and beg for mercy. But, mercy isn't something this man is capable of. No, Sasuke Uchiha has no use for something such as mercy.

The raven haired male stares hard up at all of us, and for a moment, I wish Juugo and Kai were here. It would make the situation a lot less terrifying. I understand why Karin trembles behind me, but it's making me lose my nerve. Though I'm positive that even if she wasn't shaking the whole damn tree, I'd still be scared of the boy standing before me.

"Popori," he speaks in his deep, dark voice, his eyes closed, "you will suffer."

Then, before I can look away, he flicks his red eyes to meet my pale blue ones and the world as I know it bursts into black flames.

I've spent the last five years slowly roasting in Sasuke's rendition of Hell. Five years bound to a burning tree, held in place only by the very sword I gave to Sasuke my first day as Orochimaru's minion. The whole place is shrouded in misery and reeks of hatred. Just standing near the area would make a person question why they existed.

Sasuke's figure stands not ten feet away from my burning body, staring blankly into my eyes as his black flames of Ameratsu lick my legs, never going out nor succeeding to turn me to ash. I don't know how this is possible, but after the first month, I forgot that question and started wishing they would just be my demise already.

The pain is unbearable, and I've long since lost my sanity. As the dark haired male stands before me, I look everywhere besides his eyes. If I look into them, I'll scream, and I can't scream anymore, my body can't stand such a struggle anymore. Sasuke opens his mouth again to begin his reoccurring rant, making me squeeze out an animalistic squeal. He won't tell me anything new; just that I am the scum of the earth, that I caused him to become what he is, no one really loves me, etcetera.

Over these years, I've begun to believe him. Repetition has worked on me. The words have been drilled into my brain so I agree with everything he says. His arguments aren't that convincing, but once you've heard something for so long, you'll start placing it as the truth, regardless of what common sense tells you.

"Popori," his voice echoes through the endless void of nothingness, shaking the base of the tree and jerking my hairless body around, which in turn makes the sword through my chest rip through more of me. I cough blood, but am too weak to do anything else.

I eye the Uchiha with an exhausted demeanor about me. I don't see how I'm still alive. I haven't eaten or had anything to drink the whole time he's kept me here. My skin hangs on my bones in a sickly manor from the malnourishment. The black flames have burned away all traces of hair, and even melted my eyelids, making it impossible to sleep. Even if he decided to free me for some unknown reason, at this point, I couldn't begin to move any of my limbs.

Sasuke opens his mouth to continue his usual speech, them smirks evilly. Maybe he finally decided to change his monologue. It'd give me something else to listen to. You can only hear the same thing so many times before you can repeat everything back to the speaker. Or maybe he's decided to change my torture method. That'd be okay, as well. But I don't think I'd be able to survive on any other type of torture, so that wouldn't last so long. It's a promising thought, a hope even.

"You've always been so clueless, Ikame," Yes, that's a very different approach than usual. "All my life I looked up to you. Other than Itachi, you were the person I wanted to be like. After he killed my clan, you became what I needed to survive. I was like a parasite and you were my food source. For a while, you were always there. I grew accustomed to seeing your face everyday; talking to you and not letting anyone else get your attention. It was all I needed, but then…" His face clouds over and the black flames grow larger, starting to eat away at my upper body now. "Then your father had to take you to Suna. Oh, how I loathed the days without you. Gontei tried to cheer me up, always inviting me over to his house. Even your sisters found time to try to include me in their days. But it just wasn't the same. None of them were there in the beginning, before my pain, so none of them mattered.

"When you came back, I was relieved. The days that followed were normal and I was glad for that. Then, of course, another complication came. Orochimaru murdered your father and your sisters. You thought you had it so hard, when in reality you had it great. Your Uncle and Gontei took you in without a second thought, when I was always on my own. No one was there for me except you."

The fire dies down a bit, just caressing my waist now.

"The Chunin exams were to be dreaded. Kankuro was coming, and that wasn't something I liked. You loved him. Another thing I couldn't have; love. I never have, and never will experience the emotion for a female. I won't grow old or have a family…and that realization was why I wanted to rip Kankuro's throat out. I never even showed a disking towards him, though. No, you wouldn't like that, and I needed you to still care for me."

He narrows his eyes, and then in one short burst the black flames shoot all the way above my head, to the very top of the tree. I shake, wishing he'd just kill me. I don't want to hear him speak anymore. His voice scares me so; I can't bare it for much longer.

"You made a promise to my mother, Popori," he says, and through the fire I can see his jaw set in a hard line. "I heard it all. That day Itachi killed the Uchiha clan. You told her you'd stay with me…You promised, Popori!"

His voice rises in hysteria, and the flames stop all at once, diminishing to nothing in a split second. I make the mistake of looking into his eyes, and I start crying, screaming in terror and doing short maniacal cackles all at the same time.

"You broke that promise!" His nostrils flare and his smile becomes one of a mad man, "You left me and never looked back. You gave up on me when I needed you most! You gave up on me!"

Sasuke screams the last part and throws himself at my skeleton of a body, ripping the sword from my chest. He watches with malice as I fall to the ground in a pathetic heap, unable to even lift my head. The male lifts his arms and two giant snakes slither onto the ground, towards me. They wrap their scaly bodies around me and prop me up so I can stare right into Sasuke's eyes. This makes my crazed noises start again. But at the same time, as I stare into them, I see insanity. I see a lost and lonely boy. I see myself in his eyes; not the broken lump I am now, but the bright ball of hope I used to be, the sun that guided him through his dark times as a child.

That's when I decide that I really am a horrible person. I gave up on him far too soon. Just like Naruto said; if I didn't help him, who could? Sasuke needed me. He always did.

My head rolls back at an awkward angle as I think this all over. My disgusting skeletal body feels alien to me, and I feel regret boil inside of me. If I hadn't left him, Sasuke wouldn't be about to kill me.

Sasuke narrows his eyes at me, then grips the hilt of his sword and slices it at me quickly. I stare into his cold eyes for a second longer before my head slides odd its place atop my neck and lands at his feet. Just a nub, nothing more. Then he does what anyone would do; he kicks my head away from him, then walks slowly in the opposite direction into the dark nothingness that is his relm.

I open my pale blue orbs to a surprisingly bright area. Where the hell am I? How can I breath? Am I alive? My god, my head's connected to my body! I sit up abruptly and take in my surroundings. Trees, grass, Karin…Sai? I remember this place from long ago. From…when Sasuke trapped me in his Genjutsu! The past five years weren't real. It was all just a horrible nightmare. I'm so relieved I start sobbing. Tears fall down my face and my body shakes with the power of my unattractive loud breaths.

Karin and Sai turn to me with shocked expressions—at least Karin looks shocked, Sai is deadpan like always—when they hear this. I don't know how long I've actually been out of it, but I'm sure the ex-root wasn't here when I was captured in Sasuke's eyes.

"She's conscious," Says Sai monotonously.

As if those words meant something grately important, multiple faces pop into my blurry vision. Among these faces are a couple men I don't know the names of, and Kankuro. The man looks devastated. His face paint is cracking from all the worry lines on his forehead.

"Hm, it seems my worries were wrong. She survived after all." A dark skinned man comments.

As my wet eyes flicker to him, Kankuro turns his head to glare at him. "Shut up, Omoi! I told you she'd live. Now everyone give her room." He pushes some of the men away, then looks back to me, those worried wrinkles frowning at me.

I smile weakly at the puppet master through my tears, then he gathers me in his arms, and I bury my face in his chest. I sit there, just breathing in his scent and trying not to cry anymore, for what seems like a long time but is really no more than five minutes. I can't bring myself to tell anyone what has just happened to me. If I did speak of it, His eyes would come back and kill me.

I wipe the salt water from my eyes while staring into Kankuro's brown ones. We share a silence that isn't at all unpleasant. He studies me with worry filled eyes, but now that I'm awake, I can tell he's settled down some.

"I love you, Kuro-kun," I find myself saying randomly.

He seems shocked for a moment, then hugs me tightly, kissing my neck softly and murmuring into my skin, "I love you, too, Po-chan." He chuckles halfheartedly then pulls away to look at me. "Please don't ever let me find you passed out at the feet of Sasuke Uchiha again. That's not too much to ask, is it?"

I flinch at hearing His name. I'm not prepared to talk about Him yet. I can still hear His booming voice in my head, like an everlasting echo. It keeps coming back like a ghost is whispering His words into my ear, mimicking His voice perfectly. I nod though, not wanting Kankuro to worry about me even more.

I think Sasuke has stripped me of my sanity. I'm fully away that the boy is nowhere to be found, but I can still feel his Ameratsu eating away at my flesh. When Kankuro stands, I follow suit, clinging to his arm. I can't let him go; he's the only thing keeping me from breaking down for real, like in His realm. The Sand Shinobi gives me a look, trying to take his arm from my grip. When I don't ease up at all, but instead close my eyes and whimper, he furrows his brows in confusion.

"Po-chan, what's wrong?" He asks, studying my face.

I breath in, "If I let you go, He'll come back," I whisper.

Kankuro frowns, "Sasuke isn't coming back for you. I promise, he's gone."

I flinch again at His name. "He's still here Kankuro. His eyes are always watching."

It's what I believed for the past five non-existent years. The beliefs aren't going anywhere soon. They were drilled into me, and I can't shake them, even though I know none of it was real. I still believe He's watching me.

Kankuro cradles one side of my face in his free hand, watching as I scan the area around us frantically. He sees that I'm genuinely freaked out, then calls for Sai. He tells Karin to stay with me, then goes to have a private conversation with the ex-root. Karin isn't very comforting; she tries to be, sure, but she's failing miserably. She keeps patting my head and acts like I'm younger than her—which is not true, it's the other way around.

"Don't worry, Popori. This will pass. I got over Sasuke, you will too." She tells me, grinning halfheartedly. This comment doesn't help. If I'm weaker than Karin, He really did hurt me. I hug my knees to my chest, burying my face and taking deep breaths.

When Kankuro returns, he kneels next to me and speaks gently, "Po-chan, I think you should go see one of the medical ninjas, get checked out, go see Lady Tsunade. I don't think you're well, and I can't stay here with you for much longer."

As his words hit me, I tighten my grip on my knees. He can't do this to me. he thinks I'm crazy…So what if I am? Who could blame me? With all the things I've been through! I push him away from me then cling to Sai, who stares blankly at me.

Kankuro sighs at my reaction then nods to Sai. The boy pulls away from my grip, then draws up a very large bird.

"You and Karin will stay out of the fight. This bird will take you somewhere safe." Kankuro reaches out to me, but I slap his hand away and stare at the ground. He sighs then continues. "Lady Tsunade should be there. She'll know what to do."

Karin walks up to me, and I reluctantly hold her hand, mostly because I need proof that I'm really here, and this isn't another one of His tricks. The two of us climb on the bird, Sai whispering to it. Kankuro looks at me with a strange expression, the says dully, "I love you, Po-chan." I don't answer him.

AN: Yay. I got this chappy out finally! Jeez, I take forever to update these days. Well, my excuse is laziness really. I apologize. I have the next chapter written in my notebook, and I'll be typing it up next. Hopefully, I'll get it out soon. Thanks for reading!

Oh, and some of you might complain about Popori becoming Mary-Sue, but eh. Sorry is all I can say. This poured out from my brain. But I am going to do a interesting thing next chappy, and then funny stuff will ensue. ^.^