Chapter 15: Finale

They arrived at the Uchiha compound and all Maya could do at first was stare in awe. She felt like it would be wrong to step forward onto such sacred ground but Sasuke's hand on her back pushed her forward, under the archway, and into the Uchiha's place. It was so empty and deserted, a place that should have been full of life and children running around while their parents looked on happily. Where had all the Uchihas gone? She bit her tongue to keep from having any visible reactions. Glancing over at Sasuke, she saw nothing there.

Sasuke took his hand away and walked on, leading her through the place to his home. He held onto the handles on the door for a moment longer than he needed to before throwing them open. He turned back to motion for her to come in, a faint smile on his lips that surprised Maya. She followed him in, sitting down cross-legged at the table that was low to the ground. "That's not how you do it," Sasuke said, sitting down across from her with his legs under him.

She blinked, mimicking him awkwardly. "It's uncomfortable," she stated with a frown.

Seeing her so clueless about Japanese culture almost made him laugh again, but the surroundings had sobered him up. He didn't feel as good as he had being outside, walking with Maya and listening to her talk. She had figured out soon enough that he was more of a listener than a talker. "You should learn how to a proper Japanese lady, a nadeshiko, from Hinata," he suggested, standing and walking over to the kitchen area. Maya started to get up, but Sasuke said, "No, don't. I'll just make some tea."

Maya got up anyway, smiling at Sasuke as she came up beside him, watching him pour water into a kettle and put it on the stove to boil. "Tea is easy," she commented. "Why are there tea ceremonies? What's so special about them?"

"Like I said, ask Hinata." She looked at his stoic face thoughtfully. When he finally turned his gaze to her, he was startled to see her staring at him so intently. "What?"

"How'd you know about Hinata? You never saw us training," she said.

He shrugged. "I heard from Naruto. He was really impressed with how well you'd done with Hinata. That's why I wanted to see you fighting."

"I didn't see that in your thoughts," Maya said accusingly, not sure if he was telling the truth.

"I wasn't thinking about that much. Saying goodbye to you pretty much consumed me," he admitted quietly. Sasuke didn't like to say things like that out loud. That was probably the first time that he wished she would turn on her powers and reach into his mind and see the truth there without having to tell her himself. But she had enough of her senses turned on to peek into his thoughts and see what he was thinking.

"It's better when you say things, anyway," she told him, hiding her smile behind her hair.

"You're sneaky."

Maya giggled, playfully ruffling reaching up to ruffle his hair. He scrunched his face up, annoyed, and grabbed her wrists. She kept her grin in place even as he turned her around, locking her in place with her own arms.

"Don't joke around in the kitchen," he scolded. She became aware of his front pressed against her back, causing her to blush and pull away. Maya stumbled forward a little when he let go, using the window above the sink as an excuse to keep her face away from him until her blush settled.

There wasn't really anything to look at, so she turned back around to ask about the tea. He just looked back at her, thinking the answer. She got an image of the kettle steaming and shrieking. Maya crossed her arms. "You could've just told me," she huffed.

Sasuke smirked. "I think it's better this way," he countered, shifting so that he leaned his back on the counter next to the stove. "This way I can talk to you without losing my cool-guy exterior."

"So you do do that on purpose!"

Smile widening just a little, Sasuke shook his head in amusement. "That was a joke."

"You realize it, though, right?" she asked curiously.

"I guess," he allowed with a slight frown. Sasuke stopped talking them, closing his eyes and sending images to her. Maya took them in. Seeing past events and his straight-faced reactions, it was clear why he acted that way. The images told her, "It's easier to deal with things when you can't feel anything." But he did feel things, he just buried them deep inside, only to bundle everything into anger, the most cowardly of emotions. She bit her lip, thinking how she'd labeled herself as a coward not that long ago as well.

Then the images started shifting to newer ones. Of him with Team 7, of him visiting Karin and Jugo the other day in the hospital, talking to people of his own accord and not because he had to. The smiles in these images were a little more frequent, but of course his cocky smirks remained when he beat Naruto, as well as the stoic expressions whenever he wanted. Those cold looks were usually whenever he was alone, whenever he wasn't interacting with people, or when someone unpleasant came by. Alone, Sasuke was the young boy who left Konoha those years ago, consumed by his hatred and resentment.

He started feeding her more specific images. Times he'd spent with Maya floated between them. A set a white teeth grinned up at him; she was seeing herself from Sasuke's view. She was happily eating with Team7, laughing and talking without a care in the world. Maya caught his eye in the memory, flashing him a personal smile. With that, a surge of goodness washed over him. It shocked Maya that she was able to feel this. A pulse of blackness came across her vision, causing her to stumble back.

Sasuke was alone in the middle of the compound, staring up at the night sky. A nearly-full moon shone in the sky—since that night would be the full moon, she could only guess that this memory was of the night before. Thoughts flashed through his mind then, transferred to Maya as glimpses of the suicide mission he'd planned to kill Madara. It was a weak plan with a one in a million chance of working, especially now that his cursed seal was gone and he didn't have that edge in battle.

Snapping her eyes open, Maya was back in the kitchen, looking at Sasuke's back as he poured the hot water into two mugs. She let out a heavy sigh, not sure how to feel. "You never meant to leave?" she breathed. "You… wanted me to keep you here?"

"I need some sort of excuse for myself, don't I?" he muttered, barely audible. Reaching up, he opened a cupboard and pulled out a handful of sugar. Sasuke glanced at her after plopping one into his, asking with his eyes.

"Six," she said.

He raised an eyebrow.

"There's no such thing as 'sweet' in the demon world," she explained with a smile. "I like it a lot."

"Was there no 'salty', either?" he asked, and a flash of the empty soup bowls from their day out with Team 7 crossed her mind.

She laughed in embarrassment. "Very perceptive of you," Maya commended. "Yes, that's true. We had sour and that was mostly it. Although back there, I didn't need very much to survive. We could last for months on one scrap of rotting meat."

"That's disgusting," he stated.

Maya bit her lip to keep from smiling wider but it didn't completely work. She found his repulsion humorous and almost went on to articulate on more gruesome things that happened in the demon world, instead deciding to keep it to herself for now. After that, they sipped their tea in silence at the low table, Maya finishing hers much quicker than Sasuke. He seemed to find it hot as he kept blowing on it before drinking. She tilted her head in confusion.

"What's it like to you?" she questioned, leaning her elbows on the table.

He eyed her position. "That's not proper."

"Forget proper, what's the tea like to you?"

"Scalding," he answered after a moment. "Not too sweet. I like to taste the chamomile."

"So this is chamomile…" Maya gazed down into her empty cup save for some brown sludge at the bottom. Perhaps six sugar cubes were too much?

"I doubt you could taste it over all that sugar," Sasuke commented dryly, smirking her she lifted her head to glower at him.

"I could too," she shot back, sounding childish. Maya sat back on her heels like Sasuke had told her to. Her eyes wandered over him, stopping at his face and smiling, silently asking for approval. He blinked at her and nodded shortly, raising the cup to his mouth again. "Should I really ask Hinata to teach me? I mean, I don't even know what I'm going to be doing as a jounin… Maybe I should be practicing my fighting techniques, since I don't know any jutsu… or genjutsu… or hand signs…"

"I know of many people who specialize in taijutsu and get by. As long as you know how to deal with those things, it should be fine." Sasuke's black eyes peered at hers. "When you unleashed your demon abilities on that jounin, your eyes changed color."

Maya brought her hands up to her eyes in surprise, but then she realized that she couldn't see by touching them and let them drop to the table. Her hands, not her eyes. "What color?" she probed, interested.

"Red."

Her eyes flickered to the right, unable to take his burning stare. When Maya looked back, his eyes were still trained on hers. "You must've seen wrong from such a distance."

"I activated my sharingan when you started. Your eyes were definitely red," he replied confidently.

"So what?" Maya's defensiveness came from the brief images she got from him. The majority of her abilities were off, but she couldn't stop them completely, and somehow, Sasuke's thoughts got through to her much clearer. There were clips of the Uchihas that had lived in the compound, their red eyes glowing, and there were short moments where Maya was in his memories in the Uchiha clothes he'd gotten her. He was implying that she fit in as an Uchiha. Remembering what the jounin had insulted her with, Maya immediately rejected this idea. Absolutely no good would come of being so closely associated with him, not for either of them.

Sasuke watched her expectantly.

"What?" she snapped, annoyed with his assertive attitude.

"You know what."

"I'm not an Uchiha."

"You could be."

Her jaw hung open before she quickly closed it. "Do you know how bad of an idea that is? I'm a demon! You don't—I don't—we—!" She stopped talking abruptly, exasperated. The words weren't coming out right because of how stunned she was. Though he hadn't said it directly, it was clear what he wanted—to rebuild the Uchiha clan with her.

"You're the perfect candidate," he went on. "I don't see why you're so against it."

"I'm a demon!" she repeated, eyes wide. "Why does that not immediately raise red flags for you? DEMON!"

Sasuke was unaffected, even smirking a little.

"You cheeky bastard," gasped Maya. He'd flashed an image of a baby with black hair and red eyes. An Uchiha, but without the sharingan. They were her eyes. "No! You'll ruin your reputation, you'll ruin your clan!" Her hand were flat on the table now as she leaned towards him, rising off the ground a little.

"My only goal is to bring the Uchiha name back to its rightful glory," he responded calmly.

"That, and kill Madara Uchiha," she reminded him smartly, eyebrows drawn together in… in… anger, confusion, worry. "It's too early for this, Sasuke. Where is your head? First that insane plan that scared the hell out of me, now you're saying you want r-repopulate?" She stumbled over the word with obvious mortification.

"You don't want to?" inquired Sasuke, leaning forward as well. Maya flinched back as his face came close to hers. He lingered for a couple more seconds before sighing and sitting back down. Sasuke didn't say another word, just looked at her, and then he got up, heading for the door. Worried, Maya scrambled to her feet, running out just as Sasuke left the house.

"Where are you going?" she yelled at his back.

He didn't turn around. "Training grounds." Hearing her footsteps approaching quickly, Sasuke spun to face her, hands casually in his pockets which would have made him seem relaxed if not for the hard expression on his face. Maya instantly backed up a step, finding that she was too close when she skidded to a halt. "Stay here. Tsunade will probably send for you in the next few hours to explain your new duties."

"Won't she be able to find me if I'm with you?" Maya pressed, not wanting to leave him alone.

Sasuke didn't react to the keen look she wore in the way she expected. He simply removed his right hand from his pocket and flicked her forehead. She blinked. "Wish I could read your mind," he murmured, leaving the compound.

Maya, rooted the ground, unwillingly letting him go. But he was incredibly right. Not even a minute after he'd disappeared, a scroll was dropped from the sky and she looked up to see a hawk flying away. Turning her attention to the scroll, she unrolled it, finding a summons that was too generalized to be addressed just to her. It read:

Congratulations!

Your new status as a jounin was well-earned, Konoha shinobi.

As you know, the Summit of the Five Kages will commence tomorrow. For that reason, the team assignments will not be dragged out.

Please report to the Academy's Auditorium 3 at 1500. You will receive your team and information on your first mission.

As I will not be in Konohagakure for a week at most, Shizune will be leading you on your journey to become a great jounin for the next few days.

Be good!

-the Hokage

For a moment, she was happy be to a part of something as… full of community as this. But then she remember that she didn't know where the Academy was, let alone Auditorium 3. With a sigh, Maya unleashed her abilities completely and allowed them to guide her to where Sasuke was training. She wasn't able to peek at what he was doing because he sensed her coming and stopped his actions immediately, turning to face her with sweat dripping from his forehead. It had only been about fifteen minutes since he left and he was already so tired?

"Looks like you're really pushing yourself," she said. When he just stood there and regained his breath, she frowned and went on, "I need to be at the Academy in a couple hours. I think… What time is it?" Sasuke still didn't answer. She clenched and unclenched her jaw, fighting back feelings of bitter rejection. The way he was ignoring her sort of stung.

Then he lost his composure. "It's almost 1500. Your sense of time is impossibly off."

So he only dropped the act to prove that he was better than her. "How'd you even know what time I was supposed to be there?"

"The Hokage is a bit of a scatterbrain. She probably wouldn't send things out in time to let people take their time getting there," he explained in a monotone. Maya began regretting expressing her aversion to his idea but didn't think about taking it back. She was right in her response and she would stick to it. No way would she help him with that. He should get a nice girl, like… like… Hinata! They could even create a much more powerful clan than he'd started with.

Of course, he could do that with Maya, too…

Maya pushed that thought away. No. The answer was no, no matter what. "Can… you show me the way?" she asked with hesitation.

His eyes burned a hole through her with their intensity. Sighing, Sasuke brought a hand up and wiped his forehead of sweat as he walked towards her. She caught sight of a wooden post and shuriken all along it in an impossibly straight line. The precision was amazing and she couldn't help but smile when Sasuke came up to her. He narrowed his eyes. "What?"

"So incredible."

"What?" he asked again, this time a little harsher.

"You." She grinned, earning a slightly confused look in his previously emotionless eyes. Sasuke was definitely unhappy, pissed, frustrated—this was what she could tell without having her abilities on full blast—but a bit of innocence crept up in the form of pride, barely noticeable if Maya hadn't seen the faint wait his eyebrows lifted a little and his lips twitched. He accepted her compliment with a short nod and then started leading her towards the Academy.

"Do you forgive me?" she questioned, following a few paces behind him.

"No."

Maya chuckled. "I thought so." Her gaze was focused on the paper fan symbol on Sasuke's back, moving slightly as he walked. "…Did I bruise your ego?"

"You're stupid."

"So what if I am? Doesn't mean you don't have to answer me."

"I don't have to answer your regardless." He was right, she realized with a groan. Sasuke faltered a little at the sound but she took no notice, her eyes leaving his back to intently examine the small rocks that lined the path they were taking towards the buildings of the village. "Aren't you looking?"

"Huh?" Maya lifted her head in surprise, his voice breaking her away from the little world she'd created for herself. "What'd you say?"

"Why aren't you paying attention?"

"To what? You're not talk—oh." She felt stupid, just like he said. Instead of using a switch this time, she used a dial, turning her abilities up until she could feel and see just enough because she didn't want to know everything. Sasuke probably wouldn't appreciate her looking too deep, since he didn't know just how far she could see.

He was telling her that his ego was as bruised as an overripe peach that had been kicked around mercilessly. Blinking to clear the thoughts away, Maya spun the dial all the way down furiously. He was teasing her! Being a sarcastic little prick! Which, of course, meant that he hadn't forgiven her and wouldn't for a while.

"Such a child," she mumbled under her breath, knowing that Sasuke heard from the way his hand twitched. Even with her abilities on low, she felt a sharp jab from Sasuke—a quick memory from his training a few minutes ago showed a dummy being brutally shredded to pieces by his rapid-fire weapons. Maya sucked in a sharp breath, honestly a little afraid of the pent-up fury he was harboring. Should she give in…?

No! Stay strong, Maya! He's being ridiculously.

Sasuke suddenly stopped in front of the rounded part of a building where a few others were filing in through a door to the far right. "There," he said without any inflections in his voice and turned around, passing by Maya so fast that she couldn't see his face. Despair rose in her throat.

"I'm sorry!" she yelled helplessly, but he just kept walking. Did she just lose him? Just from that? No, surely he'd get over it… He'd find a better girl… to… Her cheeks flushed. Maya tried to breathe evenly and once she was okay to face other people, she jogged over to the door, hoping she wasn't too late. Her bare foot passed the door and she was in, with people still trickling in after her. A brief second of silence ensued, not passing her notice, before the whispering started. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the jounin she fought leaning angrily against the wall to her right.

He looked up at her entrance, unexpectedly pushing off the wall with a cocky grin. Maya's heart jumped to her throat, the jolt of fear leaving her immobile until the last few seconds when she managed to slip into the crowd of shinobi gathered at the base of a stage to her right. Weaving through enough people to feel safe, apologizing to anyone she knocked into, Maya stood at the other end of the stage now, trying to squeeze into a spot against the wall between an older looking woman with a fluffy ponytail and a—oh jeez. The damn rude jounin had followed her!

With the eye that wasn't covered by his medium-length hair, the jounin looked her over. She balled her hands into fists, keeping her gaze forward and trying not to let him know that he'd frightened her, but that much was clear already by the way he chuckled under his breath.

"Those clothes," he said, so quietly only she could hear. "They belong to the Uchiha."

"What of it?" she hissed in reply.

"No need to be so defensive," he said smoothly, a sleazy grin on his lips. "My name is Keiro Tsuchiura. Shouldn't you be nice to someone who might soon become your teammate?"

Maya kept a straight face, imitating Sasuke.

Keiro laughed at her attempt, quickly picking up on her tightly curled hands that gave her away. "Relax," he practically whispered, leaning close to her ear. The feeling of his lips against her hair made her shiver in that weird way when someone was braiding your hair and they touched your hair too lightly. "I only said those things to get you riled up in the arena. Shinobi who are too quick to act on their emotions can either be strong… or the weakest kind of shinobi."

"Tsuchi, leave the poor girl alone," the woman with the ponytail suddenly interrupted, turning towards the two. Maya looked up at her in surprise. The woman winked at her and continued to berate Keiro, going on to say, "You just became a jounin, too! Watch yourself, or I'll have to tell Tsunade-sama about your shit again."

He laughed, a more cheerful sound than what he'd been using around Maya. "Sure, sure, nee-chan. Loosen her up while I'm gone!" he said, waving as he made his way through the crowd. Maya was incredibly confused.

"He… was messing with me?" she asked, furrowing her brow at the woman.

She clapped the younger girl on the back hard enough to nearly knock her over, but she didn't seem to notice, enthusiastically introducing herself. "Name's Anko Mitarashi, nice ta meetcha! Tsuchi's a bit of a sadist so don't worry about him."

"And the things he said to me?" Maya groped for an explanation. Was it just a lie? Had she been afraid and pushed Sasuke away for nothing?

But Anko's eyes got a little more serious, though the smile never left her lips. "You're the demon girl Sasuke brought, right?" At Maya's nod, things clicked in Anko's mind. She shook her head in amazement. "I didn't think he'd stoop to someone so vulnerable. I'll beat him up later, don't worry! Hey, it's Tsunade-sama!" Anko readily turned towards the stage, almost as if avoiding Maya's questions. She sighed, not wanting to annoy the woman further and simply paid attention to the stage.

"Good afternoon," Tsunade started, greeted by an instant chorus of 'good afternoon's from all the new jounin who had tested in the past few hours. There were maybe 50 total but the auditorium seemed smaller than a normal one. That was probably why she'd picked this one. Tsunade gave a tight smile, hushing the shinobi. "I appreciate it, but we don't have the time for such that. I only came to tell you all how happy I am that Konoha will have so many new jounin for protection while I'm away. Shizune, if you would please."

The Hokage stepped back, letting Shizune take the front of the stage. "Hello, everyone. I will be reading off the teams and once you've gathered, please sit down. That way I'll know that I can inform you of the second thing this meeting was called for. Alright." She shuffled with the microphone and some papers for a few seconds and then cleared her throat, beginning to read. Maya waited patiently for her name, but Anko had a different plan.

Turning her head to whisper back to Maya, she said, "I'm sure as hell glad Danzou isn't the one in charge. He pulled a team member of mine, and a couple more older jounin are here because they lost a teammate. In case you were wondering."

It was true that Maya had been curious as to why someone who was clearly a jounin for some time was at a meeting meant for the new jounin. "Are there usually this many at once?"

"We haven't had an official exam for a while, so no. This is last-minute since we're short and Tsunade-sama probably feels better knowing that Konoha is better protected."

"I see."

"…and Maya. Um, there's no last name, so I hope you know who you are. Anyway…"

Maya's mouth opened in disbelief. "I missed it!"

"Don't worry kiddo, I heard," Anko said, winking and nudging her lightly. Then she stuck her tongue out in playful disgust. "But I feel sorry for you. I think Tsuchi knew you were gonna be on the same team…"

"I'm with him?" Her face fell.

Anko scratched her head, closing one eye as she did. "Mmm…" she murmured, thinking. She focused back on Maya, putting a heavy hand on your shoulder. "Don't bother with him, 'kay? He's harmless. It's the girl you're with that I'm worried about."

"What's her—?" Maya started to ask anxiously, but she was suddenly pulled from Anko and spun around. Her eyes widened in shock to be face-to-face with Keiro who looked incredibly depressed.

"It's Fuuna," he said miserably, resting his forehead on Maya's shoulder as if he'd just been informed of a death in the family. "Whyyyy?" Keiro's voice had risen an octave as he whined, giving a dry sob and falling into Maya.

She struggled with the weight of him, only able to make a noise of complete astonishment followed by an unladylike grunt when she pushed him off. "What are you doing?" Maya demanded, quickly looking over to find that Anko had mysteriously disappeared. Without the support of the older, cheerful woman, she found herself a little lost.

"Our other teammate is Fuuna Souseki," he clarified, suddenly dropping the act as a smirk replaced his previous devastated expression. Keiro shifted slyly to stand next to her, draping an arm over her shoulders. "At least we can shield each other from the demon, ne?"

"Do teams not work together, Tsuchiura-san?" an icy voice cut in. Maya dragged her attention from the hopelessly confusing boy who slowly removed his arm from her to the girl that had appeared before them. She had long, pale blue hair tied into a low ponytail, bangs tucked behind her ears. She had equally pale blue eyes that might've looked like a Hyuga's if it weren't for the dark pupils in the centers. Her clothes consisted of the dark green jounin vest, long-sleeved mesh shirt underneath, and standard dark blue Konoha pants with wrappings on the small portion of her shin that showed between the pants and the similarly standard shoes. What stood out about this girl was the deep gash across the right side of her neck, disappearing into the vest that covered most of the scar anyway. It was only the way the light hit her just right that made the wound so obvious.

The girl, it was easy to assume, was Fuuna Souseki. She had the air of someone who wouldn't bat an eye if she was forced with a life-or-death situation; from the steely look in her eyes, she didn't seem the type to be on the 'death' side of things. Those pale eyes glazed over Keiro, turning to Maya. "It is ironic that you should mention such a thing shielding from a demon when one stands beside you," she pointed out without once sounding malicious… or anything else really.

Maya tried to say something, but nothing came. How could she reply to something like that?

Fuuna's eyes quickly flicked back to Keiro. He'd stood up a little straighter when she did this, causing a slight twitch of her lips not to go unnoticed by Maya. Another sadist! "I would not protest a change of team," she told him, hinting at the fact that she didn't want to be with Maya.

While this insult didn't quite compare to Keiro's, even if they had been fake, Maya felt the burn of fury in her veins. Not a second passed between her thoughts and her actions—she grabbed both of their arms and yanked down, pulling them with her into a sitting position. Keiro yelped in surprise, yet Fuuna acted as if nothing had happened. She glared at the blue-haired girl. "A team is a team," she snapped. "Live with it."

"Coming from a demon who is not even a true citizen of Konohagakure, I cannot help but find your words a little hollow," retorted Fuuna dully. Her eyes swept over Maya, making the demon girl feel horribly exposed. "But I will play your game… Maya-san. It is a shame that you do not even hold a significant name."

"Maya is significant enough," she bit back, huffily turning to Keiro who just watched the exchange with wide eyes. "Quit sitting there like a buffoon! Say something!"

"He is a buffoon," said Fuuna with a hint of amusement that made them both freeze. The girl's face showed no recognition of their reactions, only watching the two of them with unmoving eyes.

"I take offense to that," Keiro sniffed.

Fuuna examined him for a moment, just as she had Maya, then looked off to see how the other teams were doing. Most of the room had been seated with the last few making their way over to the pairs that were still standing. "You are uncomfortable around me," she said matter-of-factly, directing it to both of them despite facing a different direction.

Maya hesitated. "You're rude," she finally settled on saying, just as bluntly.

The Souseki girl's head jerked towards Maya, unabashed surprise playing across her face. It looked like no one had ever said anything like that to Fuuna, which was such a strange thing that Maya couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up. She hid her mouth behind her hand, sobering when Fuuna's face quickly became ice-cold and impassive. The brief moment of actual emotion had been nice, and it was frustrating to see it leave so hastily.

"Did you see that?" Maya whispered to Keiro when Shizune started speaking again and Fuuna's attention had been taken up.

"Never seen her react to anything," he whispered back, just as impressed with the scene that had played out before him.

"Cool," she grinned, happy to have already accomplished something with her team.

"…teacher assignments! A few of you have displayed excellent leadership skills, so a select couple will be leaving their team as the jounin instructor of our new genin. Don't worry," she pressed as a collective groan was heard, "your teammates will still be your teammates. This extra duty will only be when there are no missions."

"Shouldn't she have done this before all of us were sorted into teams of three?" Keiro muttered.

"I'm sure there's a reason behind all this," Maya answered, biting her lip as soon as she finished talking. Leadership skills? Wasn't that exactly what Kakashi had said to her? A gut feeling told her that Maya would already be leaving her team as a teacher for some genin she didn't even know—or not! She had no idea about ninjutsu or genjutsu! How could she possibly teach that? As names were called once more, her heart sank.

"Again, Maya-with-no-last-name," said Shizune with a small smile. "You're the last one, and that's because you won't be leading genin. Instead, you'll be working with the chuunin Team 8, as their assigned jounin leader is due to give birth."

Stunned, Maya numbly stood up to go join the other teachers who had lined up against the far wall. Keiro whimpered when she got up but of course, Fuuna expressed no regret. Too lost in her mind, Maya didn't pay attention to the stares she got. No way! No way! She'd get to be with Hinata all the time! She refrained from cheering and skipping happily until everyone was dismissed and she nearly ran all the way home when someone grabbed her around the waist and twirling her around, eliciting a shriek from her mouth.

"Calm down!" she heard Keiro laugh, putting her down. "Sad to see you leave already, Uchiha-san."

Maya nearly choked on her own saliva. "What?"

"Forget it," Keiro grinned. "Anyway, at least we'll see each other on missions, right? Unless you're caught up with your chuunin, in which case I've got a friend who had both of his teammates be pulled as teachers, so me and that insufferable Fuuna will probably join up with him."

"She's not that bad," protested Maya. "You saw it—she has emotions! Work on her while I'm gone, alright?"

That prospect didn't seem to thrill Keiro too much from the way his nose scrunched up, making Maya laugh.

"I'll see you, Keiro," she said, waving as she ran off. Halfway to the Uchiha estate, Maya braked and stood panting, exhausted from the effort she'd put into running. It had taken her less than a minute to travel so far at her speed but she had felt another presence. Looking up as a scroll dropped through the sky, she saw the same hawk fly away. Curiously, Maya unrolled the scroll, immediately unhappy with its contents.

By request of a teammate, you have been pulled permanently from your team.

Issues as the one brought to our attention are taken seriously.

However, your duties as the leader of the jounin team remain unchanged and equally permanent.

See it as your punishment for harassing a member of the Souseki Clan.

-Shizune

What a joke! What'd you do to Fuuna? This is pretty funny. Glad Shizune told me to write this one. Have fun with Team 8. –Anko

Anko's note brought a faint smile to her lips, but the rest of it alarmed her. Had she really been so cruel to the Souseki girl? Surely not. It was probably her demon blood. And she thought that Fuuna had taken to her, even just a little. With a sigh, Maya walked the rest of the way to the Uchiha household where she entered the empty house and fell asleep at the low table after making herself a cup of tea with five sugar cubes.

Light had already vanished when a shuffling noise woke her. Groggily, Maya lifted her head off the table, feeling her neck protest painfully. She rolled her head around for a moment before noticing Sasuke in the doorway, smelling nice as if he'd just showered. In fact, his hair still had droplets of water in it which plopped to the ground almost with a rhythm. He didn't have a shirt on, only his black pants and a towel around his neck.

"Full moon," he said.

She gazed at him for longer than was comfortable, apparently, because he had to turn away. "Can you talk to me like a normal person today?" Maya asked softly. "I've had… I mean, today was… not good."

"What happened?" Sasuke asked almost uninterestedly, but she felt a weak spike of worry that wasn't her own and she smiled, glad when he calmly walked over and sat cross-legged in front of her at the table. Maya did the same, leaning her elbow on the table and cradling her head in her hand.

"I got a new team and was kicked off it in the same day," she told him. His eyes blinked twice to show his surprise. With a laugh, Maya nodded. "Yeah, it was kind of like blocking a punch to the face once and then getting kicked from behind."

"Interesting way of putting it."

"…" The demon girl shook her head at him. He hadn't listened to her request at all. Honestly, the way he had absolutely no emotion in his voice irritated her then, reminding her of Fuuna. She'd met her teammates and lost them so fast that it felt like a tiny burp in the span of her life. She was already starting to forget their faces, and along with their faces, their words. Maya found herself thinking back to the reason Sasuke was burning with anger underneath, and the reason she'd refused him.

Though Keiro's taunts were just taunts, that didn't mean there was no truth behind them. Except now she realized that the opinions of strangers meant nothing. It was hers that really counted. People in Konoha may think that she was a filthy demon and Sasuke's personal maid who dressed in skimpy outfits for the pleasure of her master, but that meant nothing because it wasn't the truth.

Taking a breath, Maya looked Sasuke in the eye and said, "The Uchiha Clan was destroyed, but from the ashes, something greater will rise. Let's… Together, let's return your clan to its former glory—no, even greater glory, because this new clan will be laced with the powerful blood and chakra of demons."

Sasuke's eyes shone with the light of the full moon, almost hungry. "Thank you, Maya."

She nodded, biting her lip as he walked off to get dressed. Her forehead hit the table. Maya's thoughts were swimming. Had she made the right decision? In clans, she knew that it was normal for there to be arranged marriages. This would be just like one, for the sake of the clan. There were no feelings involved, just pure motivation for the Uchiha to rise once more. Maya groaned unhappily, quietly so that Sasuke wouldn't hear. She should've held strong, but Sasuke's silent fury had broken her down.

"Should've waited for The One," she grumbled. "What did I read all those romance novels for? That's right, I'll be whisked away by The One someday soon, because he loves me for me and not my demon blood…"

"You think I just want your demon blood?" Sasuke scoffed.

Maya jolted up, hitting her knee on the table and falling over in pain. Looming over her was the Uchiha boy she'd been lamenting over, smirking and offering a hand. She took it with a wary smile, letting go once she could stand up on her own. The two of them watched each other until Sasuke spoke again.

"I'd always had a suspicion that you'd be an important piece of my puzzle, even when you were in that child form. It was only when I saw your red eyes that I knew you were the only one fit to be an Uchiha." He stepped closer, backing her into the counter. His minty breath was on her cheeks as she stared up with huge eyes. They'd been this close before, but not with this buzz in her ears, not with the insatiable butterflies in her belly, not with his eyes so calm and cool yet so full of want.

"Will you be an Uchiha?" Sasuke asked, his voice husky.

"Is that a marriage proposal?" breathed Maya, unable to stop her heart from racing.

Sasuke surveyed her response for a fleeting moment before smirking confidently like only he could. "If you want it to be."

"You don't love me," she pointed out lowly, averting her eyes. "It… would be meaningless."

"Meaningless?" Sasuke echoed, sounding perturbed. His large hand was suddenly grabbing her chin, jerking her back to face him. The smirk had vanished, replaced by a serious expression that she couldn't possibly accuse of lying. Then his lips were on hers, rough and sudden and demanding and ohohohSasukeUchihaiskissingme!

Maya's legs threatened to give out when Sasuke moving his arms around her waist, holding her against him as he deepened the kiss, only to pull back in order to breathe. She gasped for breath, her pupils giant from the shock. If Sasuke hadn't been holding her, Maya was sure that she would've passed out. But all she did was clutch the countertop behind her when Sasuke's arms left her, gazing at his dark eyes. He showed nothing, only bouncing thoughts to her, which she responded to by turning her dial up to see better. They were of her red face at that few moment, of his own strange butterflies that inhabited his chest, and the abrupt kiss he'd forced on her lips.

She could sense a bit of uncertainty in him, as if he wasn't sure he should've gone so far, but Maya shook her head. "If… If it's alright with you, can we just look at the moon now?"

"You slept pretty long at the table. Why don't we stay out until you fall asleep?" he suggested so calmly that Maya almost doubted anything had just happened.

"Y-yeah, if you're willing to stay out all night…"

Sasuke flashed a smile that any of his old fangirls would've killed to see. "As long as I'm with you."

"…What will you do… about Madara?" she asked hesitantly, looking up at him with worried eyes. "You've just made a huge commitment… To your clan, that is. You're not going to go off to get killed so soon, are you?"

"I'm going to wait," he answered, putting a hand on her back and nudging her towards the door. When she still didn't seem satisfied with his answer, Sasuke leaned down and placed another, softer kiss on her lips. "I'll wait."

They walked out, lying down right in front of the house to look up at the full moon. Content, Maya curled up against Sasuke and fell asleep.


THE END!

Thanks for reading and reviewing, those who did. :) I liked this story but this is enough. The rest is left to your imaginations! On to other stories…