Another year, another summer.
With its hot, sticky days and warm, windy nights. He preferred the nights to days. There were less people to avoid.
Meaning less noise.
This summer so far had been particularly hot and dry. As he walked briskly through the streets, his sandals kicked up dirt around his feet, covering the shoes in a thin layer of the dry dust. On each side of the street, vendors and merchants leaned over their carts and stands, towards the civilians passing through, urging them to buy their bags and clothes and to try their soups and produce. 'Freshly picked' the signs always claimed.
But the bruises on the fruits, as prominent as those on the tiny knees of the street kids, claimed otherwise.
Yet the merchants still boasted about the quality of their goods, calling people toward them, although always staying clear of the brightly-shining sun, always remaining under the protection of the shade.
Brim of his hat turned down slightly, hiding his face from the sun as well as from those around him, he walked in a straight line, not really needing to watch where he was going.
People always gave him a wide birth, staying out of his way. Although they didn't avoid him out of fear, just out of mistrust.
Trust. Just one of those many things hard to come across in the post-war world.
Another year, another birthday.
Today marked the 24th anniversary of the day he entered the world, cursed with a name and a set of eyes he'd never asked for in the first place. Nowadays, the Uchiha name was just about forgotten in the modern world. And where it hadn't been forgotten, it'd been stored away, deep down in the memories of those who had heard it spoken in less peaceful times. When the name would instantly strike fear and ignite a cold sweat in all people, ninja and civilian alike.
Although now, with the newer generation beginning to rise, most who had come before the newcomers decided to leave the Uchiha name off their lips, and out of the minds of their children and students.
And Sasuke had to admit.
He couldn't have been more relieved.
Years before, as the war had finally wrapped up, and countries began to slowly put themselves back together, it wasn't long before Sasuke retreated back into the shadows, waiting to be forgotten. Hoping for it even.
And after almost 8 years of seclusion, he finally got what he wanted.
To be left completely alone.
He continued to walk in a straight line, towards the one place in this town he was comfortable enough to sit in and have a halfway-decent meal. He wasn't much for eating out—or even going out in public to begin with—but every now and again he decided to wander into town for a rare day of leisure.
Walking through the doors of the izakaya, not bothering to remove his hat, he nodded toward the man behind the bar, who in turn wordlessly poured a drink. Sliding the drink across the counter, Sasuke placed some money on the counter, before taking the glass out of the bartender's hands.
"The usual?" he asked in a gruff, scratchy voice. Sasuke nodded in response before turning and walking toward the back corner of the restaurant. Finding a small table in the corner, he settled himself in a rickety, wooden chair, facing towards the center of the izakaya, so he could see the place entirely from his spot.
It had been over a year since someone had tried to track him down. Not anyone trying to bring him back to his old village—although that had happened half a dozen times in the first year of his absence—but someone looking to receive a nice, hefty bounty and a dangerous pair of eyes.
That was the last man Sasuke had killed.
He partly hoped, for the sake of the fools who thought they could take him out, that the assassination attempts would come to a halt. He didn't want to kill any more people. Even it if was necessary.
Tipping his glass, drinking half of its contents, he placed it down on the old, worn table before him before cracking his neck and settling into his seat.
This was the one place he liked, due to the fact that most other people in the tiny village avoided it. It was old and slightly run-down, with as bad of a reputation as you could have in a place where there were only a few hundred inhabitants.
That was one of the reasons that Sasuke had chosen this place to 'settle down' in. It wasn't even on the map. Just a small town almost exactly halfway between Wind and Earth country.
After the war he had wandered for a bit, stopping in dozens of towns and villages, searching for the place where people wouldn't know of him or the Uchiha, and who would ignore an outsider and ask no questions.
He didn't like this place. But he was content with it.
A young kid, no older than 12, walked up to his table, dropped off a plate of steaming food, and without a word, walked away.
Sasuke also was quite content with the social activity—or lack thereof—in the village. If there wasn't anything that needed to be said, then for the most part, nothing would be said.
Sasuke didn't exactly like the town, but he fit it nicely. Which was something that couldn't be said anywhere else.
Sasuke finished his drink before placing the empty glass on the table before him. A clink resounding in his ears.
Another twelve months of solitude.
But he liked it this way. Ever since he was a child. Solitude was what he knew. It was something he was good at.
Or at least it was what he'd always told himself.
A/N: This is a preview of my first multi-chapter Naruto story. Regular updates will begin this Spring, so look out for the next installation within the next couple months. The story will be lengthy, but regardless of it's length I hope you enjoy.