Summary: Uchiha Sasuke was too slow. Haku's senbon find the intended target and everything changes. Entrusted with his best friend's dream, Uchiha Sasuke will put aside revenge to become a leader of men…

AN: Hello and welcome to Leader of Men. This is the revised first chapter. Big shout out to my new beta The-King-in-White. If you get a chance, go read his story "Chasing Yesterday." Best Sasuke-centric fanfiction I have ever read!

Warnings: Character death, Spoilers, Language, and Gore. The rating might be upped to Mature if I add lemons, but I am uncertain at the moment.

Pairing: Sasuke/Kurenai

Chapter 1


A smirk graced the dark-haired boy's face as he stepped onto the bridge with his teammate and sensei. The salty air seemed to rejuvenate the young boy as he closed his eyes in preparation for what was to come. Today would be much different than before; he could feel the anticipation building as his blood raced at the thought of the coming battle. He would not cower before this man again. This time, he would shiver with a lust for blood rather than fear.

The sound of crashing waves beneath the bridge and the painful groans of the workers assaulted the young shinobi's ears as his teammate looked hesitantly at their sensei. The powerful Jounin nodded towards the pink-haired girl in a sign of assurance. The young shinobi knew his sensei was concerned about his students, given the conversation the night before.

"If I fall, take Naruto and Sakura and run. Zabuza will have learned from his mistakes. He will not underestimate you this time. I don't care what you have to do, just get Naruto and Sakura away from the battle and back to Konoha."

Uchiha Sasuke shook his head to banish the thoughts; he needed to prepare and focus on what was to come. Born from a long lineage of shinobi, the young Uchiha's form was lithe and limber. Pure black hair framed the aristocratic face that appealed to many of the kunoichi his age. White cargo pants and a blue high-collared shirt adorned his body. It was the symbol upon the boy's back, however, that meant the most to the young shinobi. The crest of the Uchiha Fan was stitched into the fabric the shirt, marking him as a member - the last member - of one of Konoha's most prestigious clans.

Mist began to cover the bridge. The Jounin, a man by the name of Hatake Kakashi, briefly widened his one visible eye as he sensed two hostile chakra signatures approaching. The man looked to his two students and muttered a brief prayer to the Kami for their safety.

"Sasuke! Sakura! He's coming!" the Jounin spoke quickly and jumped into a position to defend their client. A silver-haired man, Hatake Kakashi was considered to be one of Konoha's strongest shinobi. Having copied hundreds of jutsu with his Sharingan eye, the man was a virtual wealth of shinobi knowledge.

The Copy Ninja noticed with pride how quickly his students followed his lead. Their stances were weak compared to his own, but that was to be expected. He could detect twelve openings in Sakura's stance and eight openings in Sasuke's, but these were things that could only be corrected through time and training.

Things that would only be available to them if they made it out of this alive.

"Kakashi-sensei! This is his Mist Concealment technique right?"

Kakashi felt a flicker of annoyance at the loudness of Sakura's voice - giving away her position without a thought. Of his genin, she was the weakest and lacked the proper mindset of a true shinobi. She had her strengths of course, but these were far outweighed by weakness. Kakashi could only hope that with time she would mature and become a proper kunoichi.

The Jounin turned his attention to his other student who was shivering. For a moment Kakashi thought the boy had frozen up like he had done the first time; but upon seeing the glint in Sasuke's eyes, Kakashi recognized his shivering as anticipation. That was good.

Uchiha Sasuke had many faults in his personality, but very few of them could be harmful in a combat situation.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Kakashi," a voice spoke out from the mist. "I see you are still carrying those kids. He's shaking again…how pitiful!"

Suddenly seven water clones in the shape of Zabuza surrounded the three shinobi and their client. Sasuke noticed the killing intent in their eyes, but found himself unaffected. These things were nothing. If he could not defeat these clones, then he could never hope to kill that man. A smirk crossed Sasuke's face as he scoffed "I'm shaking with excitement."

The young Uchiha quickly noticed the clones readying themselves for an attack. Surprisingly, he could sense and see each one's weaknesses and openings to attack. The genin briefly looked at his sensei who smiled and ordered "Go for it, Sasuke."

The prodigy's smirk deepened as he flickered out of sight and slashed through each of the water clones in the space of seven seconds, a second per each water clone. Pathetic. The clones disintegrated into water as Sasuke took his former position in the formation.

"He can defeat the water clones. That kid got stronger," the voice materialized into a person standing several yards away. Momoichi Zabuza stood before the three Konoha shinobi, his eyes glinting with excitement. A young boy with an ANBU mask stepped beside the missing-nin and despite the mask Sasuke could sense that the boy was smiling, "A rival has appeared for you Haku."

So that was the boy's name. Sasuke immediately sized the boy up and smirked. This should be interesting.

"Oh…my prediction was right," Kakashi spoke casually.

"Your prediction?" Zabuza asked.

"The masked boy is your apprentice."

"Eh…" Tazuna suddenly spoke for the first time since they had arrived on the bridge, "So it was a lie that he was pursuing ninja from the Village Hidden in the Mist?"

"He's on Zabuza's side no matter how you look at," Kakashi answered.

"I'll fight him," Sasuke spoke in a determined voice. Kakashi looked at his student in concern before nodding his head. It would be good for Sasuke to gain the experience.

"He's quite a boy," the masked boy known as Haku spoke, "Even if a water clone only have one tenth the power of the original person's power, he dealt with those clones well."

"Go, Haku."

"Hai."

The masked boy sped forward so quickly, Sasuke nearly missed the kid's movements. The young Uchiha quickly pulled two kunai from his pouch and rushed towards the enemy. The two met with a clash, senbon upon kunai. Upon seeing Haku's weapon, Sasuke quickly made several deductions regarding his opponent.

The kid was most likely trained in anatomy; for without proper knowledge of the human body, senbon were mostly useless. The kid was also, despite his speed, a ninjutsu or genjutsu type. The strength behind the blow was somewhat weaker than Sasuke had expected. Either the masked boy was holding back for some reason, or that was his level of physical strength. Vaguely, Sasuke heard his sensei speak in the background,

"Sakura, stay and guard Tazuna. We will let Sasuke deal with Haku."

The Uchiha smirked. He would finally have a chance to prove his power on his own. Sakura would have just gotten in the way anyhow.

Sasuke was broken from his thoughts as Haku moved quickly in another taijutsu attack. The young boy easily blocked the attack and countered with a sweep of the leg. Haku jumped into the air and brought his senbon down towards Sasuke who easily blocked with his kunai.

"I don't want to kill you, but you won't back off right?" Haku suddenly spoke.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes in confusion. This might work to his advantage. A reluctant opponent would be easier to take down.

"As I thought, but you won't be able to keep up with me for my next move. And I am already two steps ahead of you."

The raven glared at his masked opponent before asking,

"Two steps ahead?"

"The first one is the water on the ground. The second one is that I am keeping your arms busy. Therefore you can only block and take my attacks."

Sasuke's mind ran at a fast pace as he considered the repercussions of Haku's words. Water on the ground would most likely mean a water ninjutsu; but by tying up his hands, Haku only had one free hand. It was highly unlikely Haku could perform a water ninjutsu with only one hand. But that was precisely what the masked shinobi did. Haku quickly formed several hand signs with his free hand and whispered,

"Flying water of a Thousand Kills!"

Sasuke felt his heart jump into his throat as the water on the ground rose into the air and formed into scores of ice senbon. Was this some sort of Kekkei Genkai? The young Uchiha shook his head and focused on survival. Quickly focusing his chakra to his feet. Sasuke jumped into the air and avoided the scores of ice senbon that stabbed his former position.

Seeing the confusion inherent in Haku's stance, Sasuke quickly threw several shuriken at the other boy. It was a testament to the boy's training that he was able to dodge. Using his chakra to enhance his speed, Sasuke quickly appeared behind the masked boy and said,

"You are pretty slow."

Haku and Sasuke quickly exchanged a flurry of blows. Slipping into the practiced style of his clan, Sasuke weaved, dodged, and redirected the blows that the other boy sent his way. The Uchiate style was one of grace and misdirection. Made specifically for use with the Doujutsu of the Uchiha Clan, the style focused upon allowing its user to integrate genjutsu and ninjutsu into the fight. While his efficiency with the style was sub-par considering his lack of sharingan, Sasuke's speed and strength was such that Haku soon found himself landing at the feet of his Master.

The swordsman glared briefly at the young Uchiha before turning his eyes upon his apprentice,

"Haku, you better get serious."

"Hai, Zabuza-sama."

The boy picked himself off the ground with a deadly grace that spoke of experience and quickly formed a hand sign that was unfamiliar to Sasuke. The young Uchiha narrowed his eyes in confusion as numerous mirrors of what appeared to be ice formed a dome around him.

"Shit!" Sasuke cursed as he recognized his position. The masked boy stepped into one of the mirrors and for a moment Sasuke briefly wondered if he was in a genjutsu before realizing that this was probably part of Haku's Kekkei Genkai. "What I would not give for my Sharingan to be activated right now," Sasuke thought angrily.

The masked shinobi suddenly jumped to another mirror too fast for Sasuke to see, but the young Uchiha winced in pain as a senbon pierced his arm. Too fast. There was no way he could keep up with the other boy's speed. Several more ice senbon rushed towards Sasuke's direction; the young Uchiha quickly dodged and blocked, but several of the projectiles pierced his body.

"Dammit!" Sasuke analyzed his situation. Sakura would be no help, and Kakashi would be kept occupied by Zabuza. If Naruto was here then he had a much more likely chance of surviving this encounter.

Several minutes passed as Sasuke continued to dodge the senbon. He was getting better at reading the moves of Haku, but was not able to attack. Sensing a lull in the other boy's attacks, Sasuke quickly formed several hand signs and yelled,

"Fire Style: Great Fireball Jutsu!"

A giant fireball flew from the Uchiha's mouth towards one of the mirrors. The powerful fireball was not strong enough to melt the Kekkei Genkai powered ice and merely dissipated against the mirror. Another barrage of senbon suddenly attacked the Uchiha. This continued for several agonizing minutes before the attacks ceased as a voice yelled out,

"Uzumaki Naruto has arrived!"

Sasuke briefly caught a glimpse of his teammate and glared. Did the dobe not understand stealth? At least the blonde was outside the dome where he could assist-

"Yo Sasuke, what's up?" the blonde spoke from right beside the young Uchiha. Sasuke glared at his teammate before the barrage of senbon started again. The two genin quickly blocked many of the strikes, but the attack still left them both wounded.

"Shit! This guy is tough isn't he Sasuke? Let us see how he likes this!" the blonde formed a hand sign and yelled out, "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

Scores of Narutos formed and charged the mirror that currently possessed Haku. They were quickly destroyed by the masked shinobi's exceptional speed. Sasuke sighed before noticing that he had seen Haku move. Were his eyes adjusting to Haku's speed?

"Naruto! Try that again!"

"You got it!"

The clones were once again destroyed, but Sasuke smirked as he realized he could see Haku's movements.

"Once more, Naruto!'

"Don't worry, Sasuke! I'll kick this guy's ass!"

This time, when Haku moved, Sasuke was already in motion as he sent a giant fireball towards the shinobi. The prodigy smirked when he saw that Haku's cloak was burning. The masked shinobi quickly discarded the cloak and glared at the young Uchiha. Moving at a speed Sasuke did not suspect, Haku threw several senbon at frightening speed towards Naruto's vital organs. The young Uchiha watched in horror as his teammate collapsed.

Flashes of his time with Naruto sped through Sasuke's mind. Despite the rivalry between the two, Sasuke considered the blonde idiot his best friend. It angered the young Uchiha beyond belief seeing his comrade collapsed on the ground.

He was tired of having people taken away from him.

Itachi.

"I'm going to kill you, you bastard!"

"I am sorry, but it was necessary."


Across the bridge, Hatake Kakashi and Momoichi Zabuza were locked in fierce combat with one another. The son of Konoha's White Fang grimaced as the mist obscured his vision. He was about to summon his nin-dogs when he suddenly felt a vile, powerful chakra unleashed. "The Kyuubi? The seal is breaking!" Kakashi thought in confusion, "I have to end this quickly!"

Kakashi quickly summoned his nin-dogs and grimaced as the oppressive chakra of the Kyuubi grew. The powerful Jounin grimace deepened as he heard Zabuza chuckle,

"My, my, a Jinchuuriki. Your team is full of surprises, Kakashi."

"Sorry to cut this short, but prepare to die."

Zabuza was about to retort before several giant dogs latched onto his arms. A chirping noise was the last thing he heard.

Kakashi turned from the missing nin's dead body and rushed past Sakura who was looking towards where the ice dome used to be. Two bodies lay upon the ground while the other knelt over his comrade's broken form..

The Jounin's mind briefly recognized that Sasuke must have defeated the other boy before noticing the violent wisps of red chakra that were rising from Naruto's prone form. Kakashi rushed towards the two genin and noticed in relief that Naruto's chest still rose and fell.

His relief was short-lived. The Copy-Ninja's Sharingan immediately calculated the speed at which Naruto's chakra coils were being engulfed by demonic red chakra and gasped. The seal was breaking. The only way to prevent this would be to kill Naruto immediately so that the Kyuubi would remain dormant for another week in the dead body, giving Kakashi enough time to reach Konoha so that the Sandaime could properly seal the Kyuubi into a new host.

"S-sasuke?" Kakashi heard Naruto whisper.

"I'm here Naruto; Haku's dead. You gotta make it," Sasuke responded in a choked voice.

"Naruto," Sasuke turned to see his sensei standing beside him, "The Kyuubi is breaking free. You know what that means."

"H-hai."

"What? Kyuubi?" Sasuke asked in confusion.

"Stay silent for now, Sasuke. I will explain later, but for now all you need to know is that for the safety of all who live in Konoha, Naruto must be killed."

"H-h-hai." Sasuke replied, his face showing the utter shock behind Kakashi's words.

Kakashi suddenly pulled a kunai from his pouch as tears filled his eyes.

"I am so sorry, Naruto."

"W-ait. I-I need to tell Sasuke something!" Naruto rasped out.

"Do it quickly."

"S-sasuke, you are my best friend. I-I entrust Konoha to you. Be the best damn Hokage that ever was! Promise me!"

"I promise," Sasuke whispered as tears dripped down his face.

Kakashi nodded and prepared the kunai to strike Naruto; but before he could, Sasuke had already pulled his own kunai and slit his best friend's throat. Blood coated the young Uchiha's hands as tears dripped onto Naruto's face.

"I'm so sorry, Naruto; so damn fucking sorry!" As he finished saying these words, Sasuke passed out. The Copy Ninja sighed as he recognized the reason behind Sasuke's actions. The young Uchiha would now mostly likely possess the Mangekyou Sharingan. Damn! As if things were not complicated enough.

"NARUTO!" Sakura screamed as she watched her beloved slit his teammates throat. The pink-haired kunoichi ran towards the three Konoha shinobi, tears filling her eyes.

"Sakura, I am going to need you to stay here and care for Sasuke until he wakes. I must take Naruto's body to Konoha with utmost haste."

"B-but, Sasuke killed Naruto! Why are you being so calm?"

Kakashi sighed heavily before saying,

"Sasuke acted for the safety of Konoha. I will explain everything to both of you when I return, but for now I must get Naruto's body to Konoha."

"Hai!"

"Well, well, looks like Zabuza and his brat failed the task I set for them."

Kakashi looked to his left and was surprised to see an army of mercenaries standing behind someone who appeared to be Gatou. Damn. He did not have time for this. Quickly forming the hand sign for Kage Bunshin, a second Kakashi appeared beside him. The real Kakashi grabbed Naruto's and Sasuke's bodies before sighing "Sakura, grab onto my clone's back. We are leaving."

"But what about Tazuna and the village!"

Kakashi sighed once again.

"If we do not get back to Konoha within the week, you can rest assured that there will be far more casualties than this village. More specifically, there will be far more Konoha casualties. This mission has failed. We are leaving now Sakura."

"Good choice, you fucking ninja!"

"Sakura, let's move."

"H-hai."

The sound of Tazuna's screams could be heard as Team Seven fled.


Sasuke awoke to white. White walls, white bed sheets, white pillows all indicated he was in the hospital.

The young Uchiha felt a light pressure behind his eyes, letting him know that he had activated both his Sharingan and the Mangekyou Sharingan. A lone tear dripped from the corner of his eye to the pillow he lay his head upon. He had killed Naruto, his best friend. It had been a practical decision at the time. Naruto was going to die anyways, might as well be him who did it so that he might gain more power. Guilt still plagued his heart.

"Be the best damn Hokage that ever was!"

"I promise you Naruto, I will accomplish your dream," Sasuke whispered.

"Sasuke?"

The young Uchiha was startled at the voice and accidentally activated his Sharingan. The prodigy was relieved to see it was only his sensei.

"Sasuke, relax the chakra to your eyes. You will need to learn control."

"How many tomoe?" Sasuke asked tonelessly as the red faded from his eyes.

"Two in each. In regards to your Mangekyou, yes I know about that, I need you to promise me that you will not activate it unless you are in a life and death situation. Your chakra capacity is not large enough to sustain the techniques offered by the Mangekyou. Plus, it causes blindness... as I am sure you are aware."

"Hai, Kakashi," Sasuke nodded dully even as his mind went back to the tablet that told of the Uchiha family's ultimate power.

"Do you feel up to a debriefing? You have been in and out of consciousness for nearly six days. The Hokage is eager to see you and Sakura."

"I am ready."

Kakashi waited outside as his protégé dressed into some clothes the former had brought.

The two soon filed the young Uchiha's release from the hospital and headed towards the Hokage Tower.

Upon reaching the door, Sasuke noticed his remaining teammate waiting for them.

Dark bags surrounded her eyes, showing that she had not slept recently. The kunoichi looked hesitantly at Sasuke, and the Uchiha knew that whatever infatuation the pink-haired girl once had for him had died with Naruto. It strangely bothered Sasuke. Another sign of things that had been lost.

"Sasuke-kun, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura spoke softly.

"Let us go," Kakashi nodded.

The remaining members of Team Seven soon entered the Hokage's office. The man had a very somber expression on his face. One Sasuke only remembered seeing when the Hokage had visited him in the hospital the morning after that night.

"Team Seven reporting for debriefing, Hokage-sama," Kakashi spoke in a professional voice.

"Very well," Sarutobi Hiruzen nodded and spoke coldly, "I have received Hatake Kakashi's report and I want both of you to know that I am pleased with both your performance. Losing a teammate is difficult, but you both acted in the best interests of Konoha. Especially you, Sasuke, I understand the personal reasons behind your decision, but know that whatever power you have gained will benefit our village."

The two genin nodded, though Sakura looked at Sasuke in confusion at the mention of power.

"Now to the heart of the matter and the reason behind Uzumaki Naruto's death. What I am about to tell you both is an S-ranked secret that must never be revealed under pain of death. Is that understood?"

"Hai, Hokage-sama."

"The Kyuubi did not die that night so long ago, for Bijou cannot be killed. However, it was sealed inside a child; specifically, it was sealed inside the body of Uzumaki Naruto. Upon the attack by the boy Sasuke killed, the seal was incredibly weakened and the Kyuubi was going to break free. It was only Naruto's death that would hold the Kyuubi back until a suitable sealing could take place."

Both Sasuke and Sakura wore shocked expressions upon their faces. Sasuke's mind slowly began to understand the truth behind Naruto's attitude and life. After a few moments of silence, Sasuke asked in a near whisper,

"Why? Why Naruto?"

Sarutobi Hiruzen looked at Sasuke with a severe expression as he spoke,

"Because he was available."

Shock morphed into anger at the Hokage's words and the young Uchiha nearly growled at the elderly man before he felt the hand of his sensei rest upon his shoulder. Sasuke sighed as the anger dissipated at Kakashi's touch and asked dully,

"May I ask what has happened to the Kyuubi?"

"Normally, I would not be allowed to give you such information," Sarutobi began, "However because this information pertains to you I will allow it. I must ask Sakura to leave however. You are dismissed, Sakura."

The kunoichi looked at the Hokage for a moment before softly sobbing,

"I want to resign my shinobi status. I want out."

"That is understandable. Please see my secretary and she will give you the proper paperwork."

"Thank you, Hokage-sama."

With these words, Sakura turned and left the room. Sasuke briefly stared at his former teammate's back before sighing. It was probably for the best.

"The Kyuubi," the Sandaime Hokage spoke in the same cold tone that had been present in his voice since the beginning of the debriefing, "Has been sealed inside one of Konoha's ancient artifacts until a proper host can be found. However, with the death of Uzumaki Naruto and the end of the Uzumaki line, the only other clan with the potential to control the Kyuubi is the Uchiha."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes as he realized what the Hokage was saying. Only his clan could properly host the Kyuubi. And since he himself was too old…

"How soon do I have until I will be required to produce an heir?"

"The Council wanted it immediately through artificial means. However I managed to convince them that that would both make you hostile to Konoha as well as the fact that a clone would not possess the strength as a full-blooded Uchiha. You have until you are sixteen years of age. We have already determined the female who will be your wife. I am sorry to force you into an arranged marriage, but it is necessary."

Sasuke cringed at the thought of a wife, but bravely asked,

"Who is she?"

"You will be pleased to know that she is a fairly strong Kunoichi. Her name is Yuuhi Kurenai. She is considered by many to be the premier specialist on genjutsu in our village."

"What about the age difference?"

"When deciding upon who should bare the child, age was not a factor, only strength and compatibility. It was decided that Kurenai's genetics would match suitably with yours to create a perfect Uchiha. Be happy, since the Council wanted to recall Senju Tsunade to be your wife before I convinced them that she was past the child bearing age."

Sasuke grimaced at the thought of a seventy year old woman being his wife. Disgusting. At least the leader of Team Eight was good looking.

"Does she know of this?"

"Yes, she does. She responded somewhat coldly, but recognized her duty as a Konoha Kunoichi. I would suggest you seek her out and speak with her."

"I will do as you say, Hokage-sama."

"Very good; now in regards to your training, I believe it is best for you to begin taking a modified version of ANBU training with Kakashi as your primary sensei. You will also undertake solo missions similar to ANBU, but less difficult in nature."

Sasuke's eyes widened at these words. This would definitely increase his strength, but what about his promise to Naruto?

"Hokage-sama, I promised Naruto that I would follow his dream and become Hokage. How can I become Hokage if I never learn to interact with my fellow shinobi?"

A smile crossed the Sandaime Hokage's lips for the first time since the meeting had begun. The God of the Shinobi's eyes pierced the young Uchiha's own as if seeing into the young boy's very soul.

"Do you truly wish to become Hokage, Uchiha Sasuke?"

"Yes, Hokage-sama."

"Good. I will do my best to give you team-oriented missions as well. Now, I believe that is all. Kakashi, please stay. I need to have a few words with you. You are dismissed, Sasuke."

"Hai, Hokage-sama."

As the young Uchiha left the room, Kakashi smiled. Perhaps it was just the daze of all that had occurred in such a short amount of time, but Naruto's death seemed to have changed Sasuke. Perhaps the young boy instinctually knew that to fulfill Naruto's dream, he would have to mature beyond his present self.

"Kakashi," the elderly voice spoke.

"Yes, Hokage-sama?"

"Now that Sasuke is without a team, there are certain elements that will wish to sway him away from his new goal or even pervert that goal. I need you to protect him from those elements."

The white-haired jounin's eyes narrowed as a single name came to mind. Root. Shimura Danzou would be after Sasuke like a wolf hunting prey.

"I understand, Hokage-sama."

"Good. You are dismissed."