Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Naruto are property of Masashi Kishimoto. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.

Warning: SasuKarin, not viewed in the kindest light.


By Nanaki Lioness

What image does 'abused partner' conjure up in your mind? To me, it's always been the poor housewife who gets beaten when dinner isn't on the table quick enough or when the man's favourite football team loses a match. She's the meek, shy little mouse who won't ever say no and spends the entire time walking about on eggshells trying not to upset the man into lashing out at her. The abuser is always a man. The abused is always a woman with no will.

I've learnt that I am completely wrong. Of course there are men that are abused by their female partners, and there are also strong-willed women who land themselves in these situations. I never thought I would be one of them.

It isn't horrific beatings over trivial things. It's the constant chipping away at my soul, with little tiny things that all add up yet never seem enough to walk away from. So he pushed me into a wall- so what, I was in his way, he was annoyed, I should have moved. You make excuses, and then you make excuses for your excuses and the next thing you know you're in bed fucking like rabbits and nothing changes once more.

Sasuke is arrogant and aloof, but he's also pretty and I'm quite shallow sometimes. I approached him at college purely based on his looks, and he apparently didn't dislike me enough to push me away. His Uchiha genes made him a favourite of the ladies around campus, so I felt special that he actually bothered to occasionally talk to me. When I asked him out for a drink, he accepted. When I drunkenly made a move on him, he didn't stop me. When we ended up screwing in the backseat of his car, he moaned in appreciation and didn't tell me to leave. All of these things would indicate the person in question likes you, but you never know with Sasuke.

Either way, I'm living under his roof and sleeping in his bed. That has to mean something- at least, this is what I tell myself. Sasuke is very particular about who he socialises with. He has two friends who he allows to invade his personal space, aka his home- Naruto and Sakura. Chatty Sakura who always invites me along to her girlie nights out, and sunny Naruto who always has a smile for me. I don't know either of them well, but I like it when they visit. It helps me feel safer since Sasuke is more subdued and less volatile in their presence.

It's like that when his brother visits as well. The first time I met Uchiha Itachi wasn't on the best of terms. Sasuke was in the process of dragging me up the path by my hair- we were fighting about milk of all things, since we'd just left the supermarket- and Itachi was waiting on the doorstep. He took one look at us, frowned at Sasuke and shook his head disapprovingly. Sasuke let go immediately and actually cared to look slightly sheepish.

"Treat her with the same respect you would treat our mother," Itachi had told him, which I know was a powerful statement given their much-beloved mother was dead. Then he had turned to me, smiled and extended a hand of introduction like nothing had just happened. His eyes were warm and his handshake was firm, but I was more concerned that Sasuke was going to be angry when he left. He wasn't- he was more subdued than usual, and blanked me for a couple of days instead.

So this is my life now- in the shadow of Sasuke, basking in the glow of being his trophy and pretending that it's what I really want out of life. My mother always told me to never let a man control me like my father did to her, but I guess sometimes we imitate what we grew up with. I'm young, I have plenty of time to find others and move on yet I stay because I love that bastard Uchiha. I'd never admit it and I don't know if he even likes me sometimes though.

He isn't a stereotype. It isn't things like uncooked dinner or football matches that make him mad. It's ridiculous things, like the milk incident where I'd simply picked up full fat instead of half. But of course, if he was a stereotype I could avoid the triggers easily- when he isn't, I don't know what sets him off.

No matter what he does he respects me enough not to hit me. The day this track record is broken is the day I will leave. I tell myself these things, but I'm a liar. That day has come and I'm still right here, shaking as I watch Sasuke slam the front door behind him as he leaves me alone on the living room floor. I give as good as I get (another reason it's partially my fault, of course) and when he started shouting, I shouted back. He grabbed a fistful of my hair and pulled me towards him with it and I spat in his face. I probably deserved the smack he gave me, because that really wasn't a nice thing to do.

And now? I pull myself to my feet as well as pulling myself together, telling myself not to cry. I can't stop shaking though, because deep down I know he just crossed a line and yet I still won't walk away. The sensible part of my mind tells me I didn't deserve what he did, that I didn't provoke him, and I can almost hear my mother telling me the same from the grave. I am not responsible for his actions. I am not to blame.

It's so easy to think that, though. Living it is a challenge, and I'd rather not think about it. Instead I start cooking dinner, trying to ignore the sting in my cheek and the tears in my eyes. I don't know if he'll be back but I'm going to cook for him anyway, just in case. At least, I'd like to cook but I just can't stop shaking.

When the doorbell rings about an hour later, I jump at the sound and wonder what to do. Sasuke's dinner is in the microwave and I am curled up on the sofa with a blanket, eating ice cream and trying not to think about The Incident. I can't ignore the bell in case it's Sasuke though.

Itachi stands in front of me, looking past me in mild confusion because I'm never the one to answer the door. "Is Sasuke home?" He asks, and it's enough to break me completely. I had no idea I was so fragile, but within seconds of bursting into tears Itachi sweeps inside like some kind of saviour and takes me gently to the sofa.

"We had a fight," I say, unwilling to give the rest of the details. Itachi would probably skin Sasuke alive if he knew. "I don't know where he is."

I have an option to tell him everything, even if it means Sasuke being furious with me. I don't think he could do much worse than today however, because it isn't just physically he's broken me today. My trust in him has vanished, and I know I'm slowly becoming one of those fearful women that will walk on eggshells. I should walk away right now and never look back.

Itachi isn't saying anything. He's just looking, almost like he's studying me, and I panic slightly when his eyes linger on my own. Sasuke's punch was near my eye and I haven't checked a mirror- I silently beg to myself to not be bruised, please no, I don't want to explain-

"He hit you."

It isn't a question, so I don't give an answer.

"You don't have to stand for that, Karin," Itachi tells me after a moment of thought. "He has a lot to learn about respect. I'm sorry."

I don't know why he's the one apologising, but I nod anyway and shrug like it doesn't matter. "I spat on him."

"Do you think that means you deserved it?"

I know it's a question this time, but I still won't answer.

"No matter what, you deserve only his respect. Your action wasn't kind, but his was uncalled for."

"It really doesn't matter," I tell him evenly. I don't want to discuss it- I just want to put it behind me and pretend nothing happened. "I'll tell Sasuke you dropped by."

It's a not so gentle hint to leave. Sasuke will come home, because this is his house. Itachi studies me further before he nods and respects my decision, leaving me alone with my thoughts. He gave me an escape route and I turned it down. I feel in control of my life for the action, even though I know I really am not at all.

Sasuke does return, as predicted, at around two am. He wakes me up getting into bed, brushing my hair from my face and giving me a soft kiss. He doesn't say sorry but I didn't expect him to, running one hand lightly down my side and to my hip. I know what this means and I won't disappoint him again, allowing him to slip one hand between my thighs. It's an apology, I tell myself. He just has an active way of saying sorry.

The cycle is coming to a close with this predictable action. It will begin again, and I won't stop it. The storm has passed, and I will stay right here to weather it when it comes again.


Author's Notes: A different approach for me :) I've missed writing and this happened, so I wasn't going to stop it! I was inspired by seeing Sasuke 'killing' Karin being animated, and wondering how a real-world relationship for them would be like. Not pretty, is my proposed answer.

On a personal note, I am still around! Baby Z is four months old now and the most chill baby ever (especially compared to his big sister), so writing for Path is starting up properly once more now ;)

Thanks for reading!