A/N: Guys, I am so sorry for not updating for over a year. This story has been dancing around in the corner of my mind, though I have seriously lacked the inspiration in writing it. Though I know what kinds of events I want there to be in Fidelis, I really don't know where I want to go with the theme. So This story has really been hard for me to work on as I don't really know what I want from it. I have been reading your reviews, private messages, etc. and been feeling very guilty. I am so sorry for having it this late.

Thanks to those who have been patiently waiting. And I seriously don't blame those of you who are mad at me. But I did warn you… In any case, I don't know what it's going to take to get me inspired again, but I certainly hope that it doesn't take a year to update the next chapter.

And Sasuke may seem out of character at first—but keep in mind he is coming out of the end of Blind, where he is more emotional…but we'll deal with that in good time.

Some of you also commented on the writing style. I know it's different, and it might take some time to get used to. I've decided to use fanfiction as a way to experiment with different writing styles, so each story should be a little different from the last. If you're still having trouble reading the chapters with the flashbacks, here's a tip: Read all the italicized parts first, then all the normal font. All the flashbacks are in sequential order. Same with the normal text. That way you are reading the events of the chapter in order of events, instead of overlapped.



Chapter Two: Even the Useless Information

Sai dropped a large stack of paper on the desk. Sasuke jolted awake, his hand reflexively reaching for a weapon. Sai blinked, Sasuke glared back. Taking a sheet from the top of the stack, Sasuke muttered something to himself.

"Are you upset with me, Sasuke-san?"

He raised an eyebrow at the pale artist.

"You just dropped a stack of paper beside my head while I was sleeping," Sasuke said. "You figure it out."

"I had every intention of waking you. I was not aware that you did not want to be woken," Sai said. "I did not expect you to still be here."

"And why wouldn't I be at my desk?" Sasuke asked.

"Because it is after five," Sai answered.

Sasuke looked at the clock on the wall. The minute hand was poised over the thirty-second mark, the second hand ticking its way up to the twelve. Sasuke muttered a quiet swear and rose from his seat.

"Would you like to look at these now or tomorrow?"

Sasuke slapped the sheet in his hand back on top of the stack. He gathered it in his arms.

"I'll take it home," he replied.

"All right."

Sai followed closely as Sasuke walked the hall. There were a few people left in the building, likely clocking in over time.

"Why are you here?" he asked Sai.

"I work for you." Sai sounded surprised.

"Not after five," Sasuke answered.

"Danzou-sama wanted to make sure you get those papers," Sai said. "Developments on Orochimaru's movements."

Sasuke stopped; Sai walked into him from behind. The first words on the page went by in a blur as Sasuke's eyes scanned the document. There was a lot of unnecessary grandiloquence preceding the key information. What Sasuke was looking for was on page two: Orochimaru's name. Sai read over Sasuke's shoulder.

"Last week, two of his followers under secret operations were slaughtered," Sai said.


"Killed by a resident who had lived there for at least five years," Said answered. "Details are in the report. Though because this only came in today, we don't know everything yet."

"Why were we following these men?" Sasuke asked.

"That, I cannot tell you," Sai answered.

"Don't know 'can't' or can't 'can't'?" Sasuke asked.

"If by can't can't you are referring to me being physically incapable, then yes," Sai replied. "I can't can't tell you."

"That seal on your tongue again," Sasuke muttered. "Whatever. I'll beat it out of Danzou myself after I've read this."

He tucked the sheet away in his stack and resumed walking. Sai continued to follow him. Sighing, Sasuke turned his attention homeward. Sakura would be making dinner soon, and he wanted to train with the children before he went to work. He fumbled with his keys in the pocket.

"Go home," he said to Sai on the building's doorstep.

Sai gave a cheerful wave. "Bye bye!"

Sasuke sighed. "Wrong kind of goodbye. Research it and try again on Monday."

Sai's face fell into a neutral look and he bowed. "Understood."

He disappeared in a puff of smoke. Sasuke locked the main entry to the Police Force building.

I sit opposite Tsunade in her office. She has a cup of coffee in her hand, though I smell a hint of brandy in the fumes. To my left are ANBU captains Yamato and Haruno Kisho, along with Danzou, whom after all these years I still don't know whether to call him a councillor or an ANBU captain. The four of us sit grimly.

"Gentlemen," Tsunade says, "I assume you all know why you have been summoned."

She puts down her mug and folds her hands. Nobody speaks.

"There seems to be some dispute between my two ANBU groups. I want it stopped," she says.

"Hokage-sama," Yamato speaks, "I would like to apologize for causing this inconvenience to you."

"Yes, these disputes should not have troubled you," Haruno adds.

I inwardly scoff. Yamato and Haruno are the ones least responsible for the squabbling. A little from Haruno maybe, but not much.

"It is my understanding that there is a continued butting of heads which neither side has been able to rectify. I am disappointed," Tsunade says. "I expected more from our exterior defence force and our new domestic defence force."

I don't say anything when Tsunade's eyes land on me. The others have made due without the Konoha Military Police since the Uchiha Massacre. The other branches of ANBU are having a difficult time accepting its return. I will not explain anything to Tsunade. She is a smart woman, and if she needs explanation, then she is not as sharp as I gave her credit for.

"Somebody tell me why this keeps happening."

She knows why; she's waiting for the weakest link to make that accusation.

"Ever since you allowed Uchiha Sasuke to reinstate the Konoha Military Police, his troops have been meddling in the affairs of ANBU," Danzou says gruffly.

"How so, Danzou?" Tsunade barks. "The Konoha Military Police are members of ANBU too, may I remind you."

"His Police Force has gotten in the way of our investigations," Danzou harrumphs.

"Oh?" Tsunade quirks an eyebrow. "And how do you feel about this, Yamato, Haruno?"

Yamato looks surprised. "I don't feel there's a problem, Hokage-sama."

I inwardly sigh. Yamato's always been the peacemaker of the four of us.

"Sasuke-san has done everything in his power to help and coordinate with ANBU," he adds.

"Muddled information is a result of certain individuals trying to keep my force from getting any necessary information," I state. "There will be disorientation wherever forces refuse to work together."

"Tsunade-sama, may I point out—" Haruno starts.

"No, you may not," Tsunade interrupts. "This is precisely what I have expected as answers, and it is obvious that it must be changed. I am sorry to have to say that I am disappointed in all of you."

Nobody says anything.

"As I reminded Danzou, you all represent Captains of ANBU and all serve directly under the Hokage," Tsunade takes her coffee mug again. "I want more cooperation on all sides and equal sharing of information."

"Tsunade-hime," Danzou says, "I must interrupt. I agree that there must be cooperation between internal and external affairs, but there is a matter of trust."

I raise my eyebrows. Yamato shifts uncomfortably in his seat. Haruno doesn't bother to hide his look of agreement.

"Trust, Danzou?" Tsunade holds his gaze. "Speak candidly."

"If you expect me to work in total cooperation with a former criminal, you are sorely mistaken."

"And how many years do I have to live in this village to no longer be considered an outsider?" I ask.

My voice sounds more cool than I'd like.

"I was born in this village," I state. "I made a mistake in my youth. I have been loyal to Konoha since my return. I have not sold you out to your enemies nor did what my brother did and slaughtered an entire clan of good people."

"Hmph," Danzou scowls. "You should be grateful you weren't one of them. And then you turn around and betray the village that cared for you when there was nobody else to do the job."

I send Danzou a warning glare. He refuses to look at me. I sense he hasn't said everything that's on his mind.

"And may I add that your record, even after you re-swore your allegiance to Konoha, is not spotless. You nearly turned on us a second time," Danzou looks at me now.

"I did a service to Konoha. Uchiha Itachi was a long-time threat to this village. He'd sworn he'd come back for me, and I wasn't going to take that chance," I snap. "I suppose you would have preferred him to come here?"

"You left the village with authorization," Danzou says. "A serious crime, considering you were already a traitor. You got off too lightly in that your service hours were only extended by three weeks."

"I came back, didn't I?" I growl.

"Only after Haruno Sakura went to retrieve you," Haruno Kisho says.

I glance at him. He tries to sound nonchalant. Whatever is said about mothers-in-law is a lie; it's the fathers-in-law that should be avoided.

"May I point out that Uchiha Sakura's departure was also unauthorized?" I reply.

"Hmm, I wonder whatever could have driven her to do something like that?" Haruno glares at me.

"Gentlemen!" Tsunade barks.

"Sasuke-san, Haruno-san, Danzou-sama," Yamato says. "All these matters are in the past and have been sorted out. Let us focus on the present."

"Thank you, Yamato. I didn't call you here to argue. I called you here to start working on this problem. Even if I have to order you to cooperate."

Haruno visibly backs down. I make a quiet scoffing noise to myself but cross my arms and sink back into my chair.

"I have given this issue some thought," Tsunade says, "and I have decided that the best way for internal and external affairs to cooperate—The Konoha Military Police force and the remaining branches of ANBU respectively—is to send members from each force to the other one. This team will keep you informed of Sasuke's doings, and vice-versa. Understood?"

Danzou's face tells me he swallows this idea like a bitter medicine. I fold my hands, somewhat pleased by this development. I make rough list of candidates.

"No matter how much experience one has—"

Tsunade looks at Danzou.

"—or how young—"

She looks at me.

"—we all have the same duty: to protect our family, friends, and this village," she finishes.

An uncomfortable silence hangs in the air. I close my eyes , scanning the others with my senses. Yamato looks tense, like he is expecting a fight. Haruno looks impassive and grumpy at the same time. Danzou is harder to read. And not for the first time his chakra signature sends a shiver down my spine.

Tsunade slams her folder shut. I open my eyes.

"I want these teams assembled by next week," she says. "Dismissed."

When Sasuke got home, Sakura was the only one in the house. He kicked off his shoes and set them neatly aside. There were no scents in the air and it was oddly still. Sasuke sighed and revelled in the quietness o f of the house as he made his way toward Sakura's chakra signature. She was lying on the couch, curled up over two of the seats. A laundry basket sat on the floor at the one end of the couch. Books and school papers were on the end table and on the coffee table. The pillows from the couch were on the floor.

Sasuke felt a tug of a smile at the corner of his mouth. He walked over to her and sat in the remaining spot, putting his paperwork down on the coffee table. Sakura's arms were wrapped around a large bump on her abdomen. She had pulled her knees up as far as they would go with the obstruction in the way. Though Sakura's eyes were closed, he knew she was awake. Her chakra signature flickered groggily. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She smiled.

"Did I wake you?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "Motherhood's made such a light sleeper out of me.

"Sorry," he said.

She shook her head. "No, if you didn't wake me, the kids would have eventually."

She pushed herself into a sitting position.

"How was work?" she yawned.

"Exhausting," Sasuke said. "I fell asleep at my desk. I'll trade you work for maternity leave."

She laughed and leaned her head on his shoulder.

"If you want to carry a baby around in your gut for nine months, be my guest." She patted her belly.

"Maybe not then," he answered. "Where are the children?"

"Aiko and Keitarou are at the Academy still. After school activities. Hisoka's at my parent's place," she replied. She looked up at him. "Just you and me."

He kissed her. She smelled like clean laundry and baby powder, and he wouldn't have it any other way. It wasn't often they were alone, at least one of the children always demanded their attention. But today was different.

"All this free time," he said when they parted. "What are we going to do?"

"Sleep," Sakura said.

"Sounds like a plan," he grins. "Get some more rest. I have a report to read over."

Sakura nods and puts her head on his lap. He sits with his hand on her shoulder, feeling the pulse of her signature, and the glow of the chakra signatures coming from her belly.

When the group that came from Danzou met with me the following week, the last person I expect to be on the team was Sai.

He stands in front of me, completely neutral with four other ANBU members. But then again, should I be surprised? Probably not. They sent him to spy on me during the Chuunin Exam, why not now too? He's working with a familiar subject. It makes sense.

"Sasuke-san, it is a pleasure to see you again," he says, extending his hand.

His voice is enthusiastic, uncharacteristically so. I only nod in acknowledgement. My eyes fall on the other members. They have equally as blank faces. I study their signature carefully. Each has varying degrees of emotion, but they are all significantly stunted.

"Introduce yourselves," I say.

Each steps forward and gives their name. And as they do, I take note of their movements, speech patterns and chakra signatures. All are remarkably similar. ANBU was to send members from each subdivision but all these ninja that stand before me have been trained under the same program and circumstances. They have been selected by one person, and it isn't hard to guess who.

"You are all working directly under Danzou," I say. "You've all had the same training. This is not the mixed group I had been promised. And Sai, cut the act. We've worked together before, I expect an honest answer from you."

Sai's face goes neutral.

"You do not seem surprised to see me, Sasuke-san," Sai says. "I told Danzou-sama that you were skilled, but he did not listen."

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Danzou-sama said that a specially trained group should watch you and has the backing of the majority of the other ANBU Captains on this matter. It is correct that we were all trained under the same program. Danzou-sama believed you would not notice, though when asked, I said you likely would," Sai answers. "Danzou-sama then said if you do notice, that I am to inform you that you are not as dimwitted as he had expected."

I raise my eyebrows. "Dimwitted?"

"He would also like me to tell you he is willing to give you the benefit of the doubt," Sai says.

I look from Sai to his comrades. Something is going on in ANBU that I don't like. These were hand-picked by Danzou, and will be loyal to him to some degree. The one I can trust right now the most is Sai, but to what extent, I'm not sure. If this is Danzou's 'benefit of the doubt' then I don't want full-blown mistrust.

But at the same time, something is off. Danzou calls more shots than he should. And over the past year, I've tripped over some limbs hanging out of his closet of skeletons. For now, I will trust only Sai. As for those skeletons, I wonder how many I will find if I do some hunting.

"Alright," I say. "Let's assign you to various departments."—divide and conquer—"I have work to do, and either you're helping, or get out of my way."

While Sakura slept with her head in his lap, Sasuke examined the papers that Sai sent home with him. The first page contained formalities. As one of the respected elders of Konoha, blah blah blah, Danzou had taken the liberty of sending out this team to this part of the world because of blah blah blah, something about concerns over the area, blah blah blah… On the next page, Orochimaru's name was mentioned for the first time. Some spies on the inside reported increased activity in the laboratories. Sasuke frowned. It was not yet time for Orochimaru to change hosts again. The last time had been a year ago, it would be two more years before he needed another one.

The report went on to explain that the laboratory prep was only handled by the top forces, and the spies had not had access to them, so details were sparse. However, they had managed to discover that a small team had been sent out which was related to the laboratory activity. By the time news of this team reached Konoha, they were several days behind tracking them. When they caught up, they had been killed.

The men had been killed by a local resident. The villagers wouldn't say anything about him except that he had left after killing them. They didn't want trouble, and wouldn't meddle in the affairs of shinobi. The only info they could get on the resident was that he had lived with an old woman in town, presumed his elderly mother. Her state was in distraught and no useful information could be gleaned from her. The report also went on to question her mental state.

Sasuke put his hand to his chin and reread the paragraphs. It didn't make sense to him. Here were two shinobi, sent on a secret mission, who had been killed by a villager. The level of security concerning this mission was high, so the shinobi would not have been amateurs. They would have been talented. How is it that a local resident who lived with his elderly mother would have been able to kill them? He put down the report on the coffee table and looked at Sakura.

He smoothed her hair and lay his hand on her arm. She was always tired when she was pregnant. The energy of nurturing life in her body while taking care of the kids took its toll. He'd taken paternity leave each time a new baby was born, but he could only afford to take so much time off. Sakura's mother was a great help, but at the same time, Sasuke felt guilty. Sakura on the other hand, hated taking maternity leave. She liked to work. At home she seemed content with the work there, but he knew she enjoyed her part time hours at the hospital more. The sleep she enjoyed now was something he felt she earned, even if she didn't necessarily want it.

With a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth, he closed his eyes and tilted his head back against the couch.

Trying to get an appointment to see Danzou is like trying to break into a fortress. There are way too many obstacles in the way for it to be easy. The team that I sent over months ago are still stuck in the lowest positions and can't help me get in any easier. Missives and appointments didn't work. I've finally had it. I sit in the waiting area outside his office, pulling the "do you know who I am?" question on the person at the front desk. I was let in, albeit reluctantly.

Something about Danzou's building is creepy. Knowing what little I do about Root, I still can't help but feel that a lot of it is still in operation. There's nobody else waiting but me. The only thing stopping me from barging in on the office right now is the second chakra signature in there with Danzou's disturbing one.

Ten minutes pass, and finally the signature disappears. It reappears somewhere outside the building. I get up from where I'm sitting and throw open the door before any other distractions make it impossible to see me. Danzou looks up at me. His mouth is in its tight-jawed frown. Sometimes I wonder if he ever has any other expressions.

"What are you doing here?" he demands.

"If you've read any of my missives, you would know," I reply.

I don't bother sitting down. I don't want this to take long. We glare at each other over his desk.

"That group you sent me, completely useless," I snap. "They can't give me any information at all, they're not helpful, and you and I both know that they're just reporting all my activities back to you. As for my men here, I have heard nothing but apologies from them. They're kept out of the loop and barred from any important information. This isn't working."

"I don't see that there's a problem."

"Well, if you feel that way, then you can take them back. They're just eating up what I pay them and not doing anything. It's stupid to keep them."

"I can't help it if the men I selected can't deal with your personality or learn how to function in your workspace. Have you considered changing your methods?"

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I know he'll see this as a sign of weakness, but I haven't taken my attention off of him. I have him in my sights with my senses. He's never figured this out, though I know for a fact that he's done some prying. Sai's asked some questions. When I open my eyes again, I look straight at him.

"The only reason these teams are in existence is to prove to the Hokage we can get along. These teams are a symbol of trust," I say.

"I'm not stupid, Uchiha, I know that."

"I'm not stupid either. I know you don't trust me. So I want you to take the team back. I need to know about external affairs. And I will find another method of doing so, even without your help," I snarl. "Those men are out of my office starting tomorrow. And I want my men back."

I turn on my heel and walk towards the door. I walk with my eyes closed, watching Danzou with my senses. His face has altered to a slightly darker shade of rage. It doesn't matter to me. When I reach for the doorknob, he calls out.

"Uchiha, wait."

I stop, but I don't turn around.

"You are right, I don't trust you," he responds. "It's a rule of mine not to trust traitors."

I don't move. He's trying to provoke a reaction. I'm not going to give him one.

When I don't answer, he continues: "Maybe that's a little difficult for you to understand, but if it's trust you want, you have to earn it."

I clench my teeth. As if the last few years haven't counted for anything. I'm not going to ask what it'll take.

"Even if I don't trust you, I can appreciate your strength. Reviving an entirely pointless investigative force does take some character."

"I am not going to stay here to be insulted. Get to your point."

"If you truly are on our side, then I suppose there is one task I can leave you in charge of."

"And what is that?"

"I want you to be in charge of finding Orochimaru."

At this point, I turn around. I open my eyes for appearances sake, but I'm studying him carefully. I want to activate my Sharingan to get a better look, but he'll see that as a threat. His displeased look is neutral. It clicks, an inward smile twists on the corner of my mouth. Well, if he's hoping to catch me feeding information about Konoha to Orochimaru, he'll be disappointed.

"But," he adds, "you'll have to keep the team."

I close my eyes to look like I'm thinking about it. He's holding his breath slightly. He wants me to take on this task. I can only assume he truly believes that I'm feeding information out of Konoha.

"I'll keep Sai. But no one else."

He thinks about it. I can see the subtle changes in his facial features. I have to open my eyes before it looks strange, but I've seen enough. He wants me on this project.


"And one last condition," I say. "I want all the information you have on Orochimaru. Nothing left out."

Sasuke woke up when he heard the back door open. The children were home. Sakura was gone from the couch, but he sensed her signature in the kitchen. There was a pause in the clamour by the back door as the children noticed his shoes. He sits up and stretches his shoulders as the footsteps run down the hallway. Sakura calls from the kitchen, berating them for running, but they ignore it.

"Tou-san's home!"

Sasuke smiled as the two of them raced into the living room, jumping on the couch. Aiko, the eldest, smiled excitedly at him. Her dark brown hair was cropped short like Sakura's, and her eyes were a light shade of brown. She was eight. Keitarou, the younger, sat on his other side. His hair was the same shade, but his eyes were a dark onyx like Sasuke's. His forehead was exactly like Sakura's, save that his hair kept falling in front of it. He was six.

"Tou-san, guess what? I got a perfect score on my shuriken throwing test today. Bull's eye every single time," she declared proudly.

"Just as I expect from my daughter," he said. "Did you use your Sharingan?"

Aiko shook her head. "Not for this test. We're practicing closer range at school than you and I have been at home. So it was easy. Iruka-sensei said I could use it if I wanted—said I had every right to use my natural abilities, but I remembered what you said. Good aim without it means better aim with it."

Sasuke nodded. "You never know if you'll end up in a situation where you might not be able to use it either."

"Like you did once?"

"Yes. Like I did."

"Tou-san, guess what I did today," Keitarou said. "We had a quiz on the different clans of Konoha, and I was the only one who answered all the questions on the Uchiha clan correctly."

Sasuke paused for a moment, choosing his next words carefully. "What kind of questions did they have?"

"There were only three, but they asked what the kekkei genkai of the Uchiha clan was, who the current head of the clan is, and how they contribute to the village," Keitarou answered. "I was the only one who knew all of the answers. Though I got a couple wrong on the Senju clan."

Sasuke ruffled Keitarou's hair. "That's all right. So long as your over all test score was good."

Keitarou insisted it was. While he went into detail about some of the questions, Sasuke made a mental note to talk to the teachers about when to teach the history of the clan massacre. Soon afterward, Sakura came into the room from the kitchen.

"Okay, okay you two. Your father has had a long day at work, and needs some rest. Go get some dinner," she said.

Both children crawled off the couch reluctantly. Sasuke stood and followed them to the kitchen.

"Why aren't they so excited to see you, I wonder?" he said, a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.

"It's because I'm pregnant and moodswing-ish and that makes me no fun anymore," she responded.

"Tou-san? Can we practice some jutsu after dinner?" Aiko called from the kitchen.

"Alright. But only for a little. There's some paper work I have to do."

"Yay!" Keitarou exclaimed.

Sasuke put his arm around Sakura's waist and they both entered the kitchen.

Sasuke ruffled Aiko's hair as she crawled into bed.

"Promise we'll practice tomorrow, okay?" she said, pulling the covers up to her chin.

"We can practice tomorrow if nothing comes up, I promise," he replied.

She seemed content with his answer, and he turned off the light to her room as he exited.


"G'night, tou-san. I love you."


He met Sakura in the hallway coming out of Keitarou and Hisoka's room.

"Hisoka?" he asked.

"Went to sleep right away. Hopefully for the full night," she replied.

Sasuke peeked in the doorway. Keitarou smiled, and Sasuke waved. Sakura mouthed 'goodnight' and closed the door. They brushed their teeth and walked hand in hand to the bedroom.

"So, the report I got today…I may have to swing by the office early tomorrow morning," Sasuke said, taking off his shirt.

"Why? What happened?"

"It might be nothing significant, but something is strange," he replied. "Some of Orochimaru's men were killed in a small backwater town near our southern border."

Sakura crawled into bed, frowning. "Now that is strange, seeing as it's as far away from Otogakure as you can get."

"Exactly," Sasuke replied. "What makes it stranger is that some resident in the village killed them."

"So, what are you hoping to find out tomorrow at the office?"

Sasuke crawled in bed next to her, taking her in his arms. He kissed her neck and placed a hand on the swell of her belly.

"I don't know. The situation doesn't feel right. But at the same time, it could be nothing."

"Well, I guess we'll only find out in time."

Sasuke nodded, and then a grimace spread on his face. "At least Danzou is keeping his promise. Every bit of information about Orochimaru has come to me. Even the useless stuff."

Sakura stared contemplatively out the window. "I wonder why Orochimaru would send his men all the way down there?"

Sasuke followed her gaze. She watched the moon through the blinds, whether she saw it or not. He sighed.

"I don't know."

A/N: Okay, I normally don't do this, but my sister is writing a Legend of Zelda parody of Wind Waker, and she's sad because she doesn't have a lot of readers. It's called "Totally Bizarre" by Cherry-sama. For those of you who play Zelda, you should check it out. It's pretty funny, and I edit it for her. So if you need some laughs, you know where to look. Chapter one is a recap sort of chapter, but it picks up right away in Chapter Two.