I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.

Run, run, run. Don't look back.

This mantra of survival ricocheted in Sasuke's mind, his life depended on it. If he stopped running he would fall into the clutches of the long fingers reaching for him; the shadows that raced along the ground, always inches away from him. Each inhale was like breathing in shards of glass, and every exhale lit a fire in Sasuke's chest that felt as if it would burn for eternity, igniting him from the inside out into a fierce ball of fire; he was alight with determination to make it out of this accursed forest alive at all costs.

His legs were becoming heavier to lift, as if weights were attached to his ankles and more were added every step. Thorns lashed out and cut at his arms and legs as he darted through thickets and over bushes; it was as if the forest itself wanted to impede the boy. His heart was pounding in his chest like a repetitive bomb blasting; exploding into destruction, just like Sasuke's entire life had.

Sasuke sensed his brother was nearby, but he couldn't hear him; Itachi had separated them when the attackers first ambushed the two brothers while they slept. They had taken different pathways, and Itachi had hoped to drive the pursuers away from Sasuke; unfortunately the plan had failed. The men were after them both and it was clear they weren't leaving without the two Uchihas in their cold grasp.

Itachi felt icy tendrils of fear wrapping around his heart, yet the fear wasn't for himself; it was for his younger brother. Itachi had spent so long trying to ensure Sasuke's safety only to have it all torn to shreds. A low hiss escaped Itachi's lips when a silver flash rocketed past him; splinters burst from the tree the knife had buried itself in. He made a sharp turn in hopes to throw his resolute pursuers off track, but they were trained in tracking and the hunt had given them the adrenaline they needed to go for hours.

They were closing in, and Sasuke and Itachi both knew they couldn't outrun their hunters.

The only advantage the Uchiha brothers had was their vision; they were born in the Yoru Ōkoku; unlike their attackers, whom were wearing goggles to assist them in seeing in the darkness. It was clear they weren't from the dark lands, thus Sasuke and Itachi could see far better and this allowed them to move faster. Unfortunately, they were both malnourished and weakened from exposure and lack of sleep; their luck soon ran out against the opposing, hulking men that were chasing them. Directly in Sasuke's pathway, a large mass slid in front of him and the teenager didn't have time to stop or swerve; the beastly man's hand buried itself in the dark tresses of the neko and slammed him back into a tree. Sasuke hissed, every bone in his body jarred painfully from the collision.

Hell-bent on fighting, on survival, Sasuke lashed out with sharp nails and clawed at his captor's arm. The man simply sneered down at the boy without a hint of pain, canine-like fangs dripping with saliva. Sasuke's stomach turned in horror when, not far off, he heard his brother give an enraged cry. They had both been caught in the jaws of a trap that meant to destroy them. Darkness began to eat away at the corners of Sasuke's vision and his struggles began to weaken as unconsciousness fell over him; just before he was completely lost to the world, his abductor leaned to his ear and chuckled darkly; it sent a shiver of disgust down Sasuke's spine.

"Games over, kitten."

Sasuke was slow coming back to consciousness; but his entire body throbbed and it drove him out of the reprieve that had been sleep. His memory was foggy, as if he were trying to look into it through a dense fog. He had the vaguest recollection of being dragged out of the forest and tossed into a large truck, where the doors were shut with a harsh bang. With a groan, Sasuke began to push himself into a sitting position despite his protesting muscles; he wrapped an arm around his bruised side as if that might alleviate the pain that was making it difficult to breathe.

A glance sideways revealed Itachi had been carelessly thrown beside Sasuke. Slightly wincing in pain as he shifted himself to sit beside his brother, Sasuke reached out and brushed Itachi's long hair out of his eyes; he called the elder's name in hopes to wake him. Sasuke glanced around the room, wishing to discover a hint as to their whereabouts, but the small room was barren; no guards, no furniture, no anything to give Sasuke a hint as to where they may be. He supposed it shouldn't matter; they'd likely been captured so they could be killed, to finally execute the last living members of the Uchiha.

Dark eyelashes fluttered as Itachi finally opened his eyes; he cringed in pain when he slowly forced his body into a sitting position. One hand reached up to hold his pounding head while the other instinctively reached out for Sasuke and pulled him into a hug. "Are you alright?" Itachi inquired with a dry voice. He sighed in relief when Sasuke nodded; though it was clear they weren't truly okay, neither of them had sustained serious damage during the chase and altercation.

Itachi's worn eyes raised up to take a look at the dank room the two of them had been tossed into; he didn't have the pieces to puzzle together where they were and there wasn't the vaguest hint of conversation from the guards while he had faded in and out of consciousness during transportation. There was no prediction for what may happen next, as the Uchiha brothers had never taken into consideration being caught. It hadn't been an option; capture meant death, and now the grim reaper stared the two in the eyes.

"Where do you think we are?" Sasuke's raspy voice questioned, sore from his furious shouting from the previous struggle; his sharp eyes were clearly angered and anxious despite his calm tone and stature. Unknown threats lingered over both of them, weighing down heavily upon young shoulders. Itachi pursed his lips at hearing his brother's question, and his attentive gaze shifted around the room before landing on a small window that was covered with grime. Previously, Itachi hadn't thought anything could be seen out of it; yet now he could make out the faintest hint of light. A sinking feeling ate away at Itachi. There shouldn't have been light in their homeland; it was an eternal darkness, the night sky only shone with the moon and stars. This light was soft, natural; it was no lamp, and it was far too bright for the full moon.

"We're in the Hiruma Ōkoku." Itachi's words were a horrified murmur and his grip tightened protectively on Sasuke, as if to somehow save him from the revelation. Sasuke's head snapped up, eyes wide with alarm. It had been presumed that they had been kidnapped to be killed, not to be dragged out of their land; they were unconscious for much longer than either of them could have possibly thought. Itachi's kingdom had been at war with the Hiruma Ōkoku for longer than he had been alive, what purpose did it serve to bring them here? The Uchiha had long since stepped down from their positions in their kingdom.

Itachi's eyes narrowed in bitter reverie; it wasn't accurate to say that they had willingly stepped down, for they had been forced, chased out of their home when they were still nothing but children. Sasuke had been eight years old, and Itachi had been thirteen. Their parents had been assassinated in the middle of the night, barely into the beginning of the year. The murderer had never been caught, thus it was impossible to tell which of the two kingdoms had committed the crime. It was such a distant memory; it seemed as though one night the king and queen were alive and well, and by morning they were slain, collapsed in a pool of their own blood. No sound, no shadows, and no hope to be had.

The worlds of light and darkness had been virulent enemies for decades; yet the beings of the darkness had long since rebelled against their leaders. They watched the Uchiha clan with wary malaise, too afraid to take a step against the powerful family; the Uchiha had ruled the Yoru Ōkoku for a century, and in their timeline had created many powerful enemies. The people blamed the Uchiha clan for the never ending war; for the famines and hostilities that plagued the land. When Itachi was young, the sickness began. For several years the kingdom had fallen into disease, a deadly virus that people rarely came back from. Fancy walls and high status did not prevent the Uchiha from contracting the disease, and their numbers dwindled steadily due to sickness and attacks. They were sent to war and seldom returned.

By the time Fugaku and Mikoto were killed, they had been the only ones left aside from their children; this left Itachi and Sasuke completely alone in a world that loathed their blood. Itachi was too young to take his place as heir; and no one wanted to take the orphans under their wing and raise them. Personally, Itachi suspected his own kingdom was at fault for the death of his parents. Mistrust and petty thirst for vengeance boiled within the veins of the kingdom; without the loyalty and trust of your people, a ruler was nothing. It had exploded into a catastrophe that spiraled far out of his family's control, and now he and Sasuke were left here to pay the price of his power hungry father. The only question Itachi had now was why he and Sasuke weren't killed the same night their parents were.

After the assassination of the king and queen, chaos ensued. People were rioting, calling for the death of the last remaining Uchiha; whom were only children. There had been threats daily, screamed at them from outside and hissed at them from the inside. To have their cursed blood spilled just as their parents; to send them to war to be slaughtered. The unmerciful words rang in Itachi's ears from the vivid memory. All order had been lost along with humanity. Left without a choice, Itachi had escaped with Sasuke in the middle of the night, using the familiar shadows that had cradled them since birth to conceal them.

It had been difficult, and at times Itachi had been certain they would not make it; but they were intelligent, sharp and fast. Using their skill and sheer will to survive, they pushed through. Food would grow scarce and the air would turn frigid, yet they still had one another and it was all they could ever want. When they had to steal from a nobleman in order to feed themselves, who would care when the nobles had so much to begin with? When they had to spend a night in a farmer's barn due to the unforgiving wind and snow, who would notice aside from the animals that lay beside them to warm the freezing children? The Uchiha children were prodigal when it came to their minds, and they proved the entire world wrong when it came to surviving. When everyone was against them, wanted them to lose; they would damn well win.

They had lived silent and hidden for the past eight years, peacefully and without disturbing anyone; they had nothing to give. What purpose did this serve, to abduct them and force them into the opposing kingdom? That perhaps here, they would be tortured, finally eradicated? Itachi had hoped that people wouldn't keep following them, that they would believe he and Sasuke were already dead, lost to the elements. It had been foolish, but he kept that hope for Sasuke; yet he knew his little brother was neither ignorant nor deaf. They both heard the whispers in the streets, mutters about shooting the last children of the Uchiha; they had seen the wanted posters that proposed a great bounty for the death of either Uchiha boy. No one had given up on hunting them down, and no one was going to stop until they saw the deaths for themselves. All of this, and for what? Itachi and Sasuke had never done anything wrong, it was simply for who they were.

The sins of the father are passed to the son.

A loud click echoed through the room and Itachi's dark ears flattened in distress as he was snapped out of his trance of thought. Immediately he shoved Sasuke behind him in order to protect the younger. A rusting door creaked open, sounding as if it would much rather simply fall off of its hinges instead. In stepped the ape of a man that had captured Sasuke; his yellowing teeth were bared in a hungry sneer and his head had been shaved clean. "Have a good little nap, nekos?" He boomed a laugh as he mocked the Uchiha's dire situation.

Itachi remained silent, for he knew it was best to keep himself under control. He was hurt and exhausted; food hadn't been found in days and neither of them had the energy or power to muster a strike that would even make this behemoth flinch. Sasuke hissed in anger at the cruel man. "What do you want with us?" He demanded, onyx eyes narrowed into a scowl that hid the inner turmoil swirling inside of his chest.

The hulking man snickered, taunting the boys over the fact he clearly knew something they didn't. "Oh, ye don't know, do ye?" He grinned broadly as he stepped towards the prone nekos, causing them to stiffen in preparation for self-defense despite their weakened states. A sudden flash of disgust molded their captor's expression. "Ye really are fuckin' idiots, aren't ye?" He snapped as he clenched one of his fists, hungering to reach out and choke one of the brothers in front of him. "There's been a treaty made. The war has been coming to an end, and now that an agreement has finally been reached, it's all over." This time an ecstatic smile overtook the beast's expression, but it was wildly tainted with cruelty.

Shock burst across the faces of both Uchihas, awestruck and silent as they struggled to process the news they had caught no wind of. There had always been whispers of the war ending, it had always been mere disillusioned people that clung to their hope like a lifeline; never anything serious. "I'm sorry ye had to miss the celebration, it was just announced officially a little while ago. We needed ye before then." Itachi shook his head in disbelief; how had years upon years of war ended so suddenly, so peacefully? Slowly he snapped a few pieces together in realization that the kingdoms must have been conspiring without knowledge of their citizens for a long time now, in hopes to find some sort of middle ground without getting the hopes of their people up too much.

There were still too many unanswered questions; it had been a war between worlds that loathed one another, they had not even been united in centuries, not after the betrayals of the king of Hiruma Ōkoku and the queen of Yoru Ōkoku in their petty greed to have more than what they had; and then the war had begun, once the traitorous rulers and the hunger for power grew to the point of bloodshed. The pride and avarice had cost millions of lives, land had been destroyed; it would take years to repair the damage that had been done.

The war being ceased due to a treaty would not fix the tragedy. Questions ricocheted like bullets in Itachi's mind, but greater than his curiosity was his disgust for the carnivorous glint in the man's eyes as he once again bit out a cold chuckle. "Ye were involved in the treaty." The beast uncovered this secret and Itachi felt his chest tighten with the beginnings of panic. Slowly a sneer spread over the sadistic man's expression, it was big enough to nearly split his face in half. "It's simple, really. We wanted to be rid of ye, and the Hiruma agreed to accept the princes of Yoru as a sort of compensation. You're being sold to them as slaves." A vicious cackle boomed through the room when the man finished. Sasuke felt sick to his stomach- could they do this? Simply throw them away like trash to be forgotten about? "You belong to the princes of Hiruma now, like the rats you are."

Sasuke growled at the degradation. "We are not property to be sold!" He snapped as he stood up, sparks of rage glinting in the dark depths of his eyes. The giant of a man backhanded Sasuke across his face with a painful crack, knocking the young man to the floor with a dull thump. Sasuke winced as the air was lost from his lungs on impact. The teenager glared venomously up at the bastard that came to stand over him, eying him down as if he were a bug to be crushed.

"Listen to me, ye filthy little brat! Ye were a useless price to pay for our peace! Ye were sold to make a compromise between two war ravaged worlds, ye should be grateful ye could do anything at all to serve your kingdom!" A harsh kick was sent to Sasuke's stomach, earning a cry of pain and bruising the pale skin instantly; Sasuke coughed as he tried to suck in enough air to soothe his lungs, grateful to not taste blood. "We can heal now! And we're rid of the last of your pathetic, wretched clan." The vicious snarl made Sasuke clench his hands in anger, but before he could gather the strength to lash out, Itachi had already taken the initiative. The elder lunged forward and slashed the man across the face with sharp nails, drawing a loud curse.

"Stay down." Itachi warned Sasuke as he stood in front of his younger brother and prayed Sasuke would drop his pride. With a furious snarl the man reached out for Itachi's throat- and surely to kill him, but he was stopped in his tracks when another person entered the room; a brunet man with one of his eyes white, blinded.

"I warned you not to damage the merchandise." He seethed at his partner. This man was a bit less bulky, but he didn't appear any less dangerous. He looked wiry and sharp, almost serpentine. With a lightning fast motion his hand shot out and gripped Itachi's wrist, soon jerking the oldest Uchiha to his knees with a crack against the stone. A cold collar was clipped around Itachi's ivory throat along with a leather leash; as if Itachi were a mere animal to be led around. "They're here. Get the little one ready." The brunet ordered with a nod towards Sasuke.

Sasuke thrashed like a rabbit in a trap when the bald man reached out for him, clawing a bloody scar down the creep's face; despite the violent struggle, Sasuke lost and was choked by the collar wrapped around his throat when his tormentor jerked the leash tightly. He was stopped by a cold look from his partner. "Wretched little bastards, I hope they get what they deserve." Muttered the bloody man.

"Behave. They'll be out of our hands soon." Snapped his companion as he dragged Itachi off of the floor and out of the old door. Itachi held his head high in inherent pride, his refusal to allow anyone to degrade him held strong. He could hear Sasuke cursing insults behind them as he too was dragged out of the room. Though the younger had refused to walk, he had simply been thrown over his captor's shoulder like a bag of flour. Both Uchihas winced when they were brought into what appeared to be a living room of sorts; sunlight streamed in through the window, nearly blinding the two for they were too unused to the brightness. Neither of them had ever seen sunlight in their lives and it burned their sensitive eyes, forcing them both to blink several times in order to try and get used to it faster.

Itachi was suddenly shoved forward; the unexpected force caused him to fall to his knees; though as always, he still retained his grace. He tilted his head up to look at the man that stood before him, his gaze met bright red eyes and an amused smirk; the man was tall and built strong, though his muscles were more wiry than thick. With mild surprise, a flicker of recognition glinted in Itachi's onyx eyes. Uzumaki Kurama, the Prince of the Hiruma Ōkoku. The neko remained calm despite Kurama's expression unnerving him slightly, sharp fangs flashed in the sunlight, reminding Itachi that he was not strong enough, nor stupid enough to attack a man that could kill him in moments. The prince had grown since Itachi had last seen anything of him.

Sasuke had worse luck with his own captor; in his struggle he had not been paying attention, and when the monster came to a stop he simply tossed Sasuke onto the ground; nearly a six foot fall. Sasuke hissed in pain when he landed on his already sore abdomen; any more falls and he was certain his ribs would shatter. Reflexive instinct drove Sasuke to jerk himself up off the floor and onto his knees in order to look the person before him in the eye; a hand stayed wrapped around his bruised abdomen. Bright azure eyes stared down at him, belonging to a blond boy of muscular build and teenage years. Sasuke assumed the stranger to be his age, if not slightly older or younger. Concern and mild annoyance glinted in the blond's eyes as he cast a disapproving look at the giant bastard behind Sasuke.

The raven's gaze was cold and suspicious as he glanced from Kurama to Naruto. He was too accustomed to hiding his fear behind anger and hate; to the point that it was almost all he knew how to express. Sasuke took note that the blond had scars on his face resembling three thin lines; a battle wound? No, they were too precise… Before Sasuke could come up with his own answer, his thoughts were interrupted by a low chuckle. "Pretty little cats, aren't they?" Kurama mused. Itachi knew the redheaded prince was twenty-two, as Kurama was a year older; and Naruto was sixteen, Sasuke's age. The two were the children of the previous rulers of the land of Hiruma; Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina.

Kurama leaned down to grasp the leash to Itachi's collar before harshly yanking the neko off of the floor. Itachi gasped slightly and shot an icy glare at Kurama; he would never be a pet, no matter what the pompous Uzumaki may think of him. "What a hateful look." Kurama tisked with a glimmer of dark humor in his voice. He wasted no time in getting out of this run down house, Itachi was pulled carelessly behind him. Itachi quickly picked up his pace and caught up with Kurama to avoid falling and being dragged along the ground. With a weary sigh, Itachi prayed Sasuke simply kept his mouth shut.

It was winter fortunately, as the heat would have been too much to handle with the blazing sun. The two approached a black car, where Kurama opened the door and roughly shoved Itachi inside. The Uchiha slammed into the opposite window and cringed as his entire body throbbed, aching from the past night's events. Kurama sneered as he got into the car beside Itachi. "Can't handle much, can you?" He mocked, crimson eyes dared Itachi to respond. Instead the neko turned his gaze out of the window and stayed as far from Kurama as possible. The prince had no conception of how much Itachi could survive through.

Back inside the house, Naruto watched the neko with curious and sympathetic eyes. The poor thing looked like he had been through hell; several bruises, cuts and other marks marred his pale skin; yet the boy still seemed unfazed and ready for a fight. Naruto couldn't say he blamed him for the anger. The neko was slender, likely built for speed; his features were soft aside from his eyes, which were sharp with attention and intelligence. Black ears and a tail twitched with irritation and suspicion as Naruto continued to observe Sasuke. "Are you okay?" Naruto inquired softly, worried for Sasuke. He was beaten up and looked half starved. Sasuke's eyes narrowed into a further scowl; Naruto knew the raven probably thought he looked intimidating, and he definitely would have to anyone else; but Naruto knew an act when he saw one.

Usually, anyway. Sasuke looked exhausted and in pain despite his hateful expression and strong front. Finally, Sasuke opened his mouth. "Where did he take my brother?" He demanded, glancing out of the door. Naruto raised a brow at the brazen tone, mildly amused by it.

"Just to the car, it's right outside. Come on, we'll meet them there." Naruto reassured as he held out a hand to help Sasuke off the ground. Stubbornly refusing the help, Sasuke pulled himself up on his own and walked past Naruto without waiting for him. He shoved the leash of the collar out of his way as he walked. Naruto stifled a laugh at the antics; he wasn't amused by this situation in the least, but Sasuke's haughty and prideful air about him was what Naruto found funny. Sasuke cut his eyes to the side to glance at Naruto, nearly tempted to punch the blond in his smiling face. He refrained from doing so simply because he knew he would lose whatever fight he initiated. For now, anyway; had he been less weakened, Sasuke had no doubt he could easily kill the blond.

Naruto followed after Sasuke, desperately trying to keep the smile off his face. Of course he didn't dare reach for the leash and drag Sasuke along like an animal the way Kurama had done. He knew Sasuke wasn't going to make a run for it; not without Itachi. Besides, the neko wouldn't have gotten too far anyway. Naruto didn't believe Sasuke deserved to be stripped of his dignity when he knew the Uchiha had lost so much else. Naruto wasn't going to humiliate Sasuke as if he were nothing but a toy. Once they arrived at the car he opened the door; Sasuke hesitated before he got into the vehicle, glancing at Naruto with a dirty look. Odium radiated from the neko as he crossed his arms over his chest.

Fate could be cruel.


Alright, for the third or fourth time, I'm coming back to this story. This time however, I'm doing a hard rewrite. Everything is being rewritten; I still will retain some of the old writing so chapters may be similar, but I'm forcing myself to rewrite it. I'm seventeen now and hopefully have gained the knowledge and skill required to make this story halfway decent, because sixteen chapters of no development is bullshit. I'll repost the whole thing and then will continue from there. I had a basic idea of where I wanted this to go, but I may modify it slightly. Please don't panic that the other chapters are gone, I'm working on them as rapidly as I can!

Warnings include; mild violence and abuse, dub-con, later non-con scenes, and OOC.