HOLIDAYS!

Oh thank GOD that my exams and projects are over, now I finally have some time to concentrate on writing.

Chapter 57

Beta'd by Black Sparrow

Shiori Interlude

Sasuke had spent the night at their home, in the morning he was even less receptive for conversation than the day before. He had retreated behind a cold mask and Shiori was seriously worried about this behavior. When Kakashi had informed her with the permission of the Hokage about Danzo and the stolen Uchiha eyes she had hoped desperately that this knowledge would detain Sasuke from joining Orochimaru, though she had been somewhat worried about the mental repercussions on the young shinobi. The way Sasuke had cried the day before had made Shiori overconfident that everything would be alright. Or maybe she was reading too much into this situation and the cold behavior he was now emitting was just a way to cope with the situation so shortly after being told. This uncertainty was grating on her and she would definitely keep a close eye on the Uchiha's behavior, Sasuke had become dear to her like the other two and she wouldn't let him drown in his sorrow and anger without a fight!

After finishing with breakfast Kakashi quickly left with Hinako to leave her at the crèche, for that he always wore either Tenzo's or Genma's face.

Sasuke was about to make his way to the training grounds behind the house when Shiori distracted him.

"Have you given any thought about what should happen with… with the Sharingan eyes?"

Sasuke tensed before he shook his head nearly invisible.

"Would you like them buried…" Shiori couldn't finish because Sasuke sharply turned into her direction.

"NO," he grounded out before closing his eyes for a moment. "No… they will just be stolen again."

"So cremation?"

"Yes, all of them… even the bodies… I don't want this to happen ever again!"

Shiori nodded soundlessly before she hesitated and cautiously put her arm on his shoulder.

"I know that you are very independent and mature Sasuke but if you need help to arrange rites or a memorial service please come to me, doing such a thing alone… especially after getting such news isn't healthy for your mind."

Sasuke snorted. "There won't be anything in their honor… didn't you listen what the Hokage said. The whole thing will be swept under the RUG!" the last part was shouted at her.

Shiori waited for a moment until Sasuke had himself a bit better under control before saying, "The truth about what happened may be hidden from the majority of the population but enough higher ranked ninja know of this… turpitude… and those WILL remember… I'm not sure you are aware because you had been sheltered from the public at that time but after your clan was killed there were drunken fights and riots everywhere, the worst were the ninja ones… during the months after it I saw more than one of them… and I only moved during daylight, in the night it was even worse… believe me Sasuke your family was … very important to a lot of people, not only as the clan Uchiha that was a sign of Konoha's strength and who kept us safe inside of it but also as friends, lovers, comrades, as people who helped us, as people who we saw everyday… there was a lot of uncertainty and fear during the first year… the thing is Sasuke humans are resilient, we have to be with all the things we do to each other… we learn to cope, we learn to work through our issues or how to dull it, but forgetting is a bit harder… so even if the people of Konoha continue to live their daily lives and enjoy it, if YOU continue to live your daily life and enjoy it you won't forget… none of us will forget."

Sasuke had turned his whole body into her direction during her speech, the air between them was heavy and Shiori felt herself swallow dryly, her throat had swollen up a bit.

"Bottom line Sasuke… even if you don't see the signs of people mourning the Uchihas or talking about them in public, they do remember… I'm going to tell you a secret now about your sensei… it may not be my place to tell you but I think you need to know… on Kakashi's Genin team was an Uchiha… Uchiha Obito was his name; he sacrificed himself for Kakashi… your sensei still talks to him and his other lost comrades through the memorial stone at least once or twice a week… that is his way of coping with the situation… you will have to find your own way but I think that having a priest speak some prayers at your family shrine will give you a bit closure…"

Sasuke looked away and swallowed visibly before he made his way out of the house.

Shiori looked up to the veranda to the courtyard, she had noticed Kakashi's presence throughout her conversation with Sasuke. She gave him a small smile before pulling her hair over her shoulder and walking closer.

"I know this was probably not my place to say this… but I think Sasuke needed it."

Kakashi only hummed and softly placed his chin on Shiori's head while his arms settled on her waist before he sighed.

"You are probably right, even if I don't like it… I will also have to talk to him about my own Sharingan, especially before I need to use it in a fight with him present," the last part was said ruefully, with his team's luck it would happen sooner rather than later.

Shiori simply nodded before she reached up and gave him a gentle kiss on his mouth.

XXXXXXX

When the rest of Team Seven arrived it was instantly clear that something was wrong. Sasuke was simply… off. Even Shiori, a civilian could see how the normally smooth movements between the three were stocky and how Sasuke tried to do everything on his own.

Oh boy.

Anko Interlude

The snake user wasn't completely sure what she should think about her newest assistant/bodyguard/student. The black haired teenager looked like he could have fit in without any problems with the Uchiha clan if it wasn't for that creepy fake smile that he sometimes showed. At first it had irritated her somewhat fierce that Inoichi had insisted on giving the Root agent to her as a bodyguard. She wasn't helpless even if her impaired chakra control was frustrating but hey she was making progress, the leaf technique finally didn't take as much effort anymore and soon she would be able to start on tree and water walking… joy…

She wanted her snakes back and that NOW!

Anyway the first time Anko had noticed the creepy Root operative lurking in the tree across her bedroom window she nearly chopped of his head with the pair of sai that she had hidden beneath her bed. On a side note she would have to pay her landlord for that window sometime that week or she would risk his wrath. The little bastard had just snatched her weapons out of the air and then jumped onto the windowsill of her broken window to return them.

"What the hell do you think you are doing here?" Anko had demanded while she tiredly rubbed her eyes.

She so wasn't in the mood to deal with that shit, she was mentally really tired from all the Danzo/Orochimaru shit she had been dealing with and her body was still recovering from the trauma to her chakra system.

"Standing guard," the unnamed teenager said without an ounce of sarcasm.

"And why the hell are you doing that in front of my bedroom window?"

"It is my duty to protect you against possible attacks."

Anko closed her eyes at that, great just great of course the emotionally stunted boy would take Inoichi's order THAT literally.

"Aren't you tired?" she then asked curiously.

"I have been trained to withstand sleep deprivation to a certain extend."

"But you have been running errands for me the last few days."

"… that is true."

Suddenly Anko felt slightly guilty and sad for him, the boy really wasn't responsible for the conditioning he had gone through. He must have been somewhat awfully tired for her to even notice him, after all he was ANBU, Root division or not, those guys weren't slackers in any way or form.

"Where do you normally sleep?" the snake user asked curiously.

"The Root barracks."

Which were halfway across the village, oh well.

"Fine, have it your way," she mumbled before dragging the gangly teenager into her room.

Anko then removed the thin wood cover from inside her closet and covered the broken window with it, after all this wasn't the first window she had destroyed since moving here… and probably wouldn't be the last. Finished with her task the purple haired kunoichi returned to her king sized bed, one of the luxuries she had indulged herself into after starting to make decent pay in the T&I division and patted the other side.

"Lay down kid, you must be really tired and like this if somebody attacks me you will be right at my side to prevent it."

The boy had looked unsure before reluctantly removing his shoes and armor and slipping stiffly between the sheets. He had been tense like a board for a long time before Anko finally had enough and dragged him closer to her.

"Listen kid, I understand that you are paranoid and probably feel uncomfortable being so close to me but believe me, I'm not going to hurt you as long as you don't attack me first and frankly I prefer men not boys in my bed for anything else than sleeping, so as long as I don't have a second bed or futon you will have to sleep here whether you like it or not."

Now it wasn't like she couldn't understand this paranoia, she too had quite a few problems with this particular situation; she was just better at hiding it. Additionally to that she had a long and very thorough briefing on Root agents. They were loyal to a mission objective until the very end, and for the teenager beside her, her well being was said mission objective. She was probably one of the safest people in Konoha right in that moment so she forced her own unease down and entered a light sleep, after all she had only three more hours until she had to get up and sleep deprivation when confronted with such important information was never a good idea.

Three very short hours later Anko was woken up by the very annoying tone of her alarm, sighing she cuddled closer to the warm body beside her that had started to tense once more. Poor kid she thought slightly amused, he really had no idea how to deal with physical or emotional contact… not that she was an expert in that either but she DID have enough knowledge about interpersonal relationships to fit in and react 'in the right way' to physical contact.

And suddenly the warm body was gone.

Huh that brat had shunshined himself out of her grip… Anko had to snort, why oh why was she in some way reminded of Kakashi before Shiori got her hands on him? Oh well. Tired Anko grabbed her clothes and headed into the bathroom.

When she stepped out once more she was treated to the sight of her still unnamed bodyguard drawing the scenery outside her still intact kitchen window. Curious she walked closer and took in the smooth and practiced movements of the teenager.

"Well, well you are pretty versatile aren't you? A lot like my sai actually… hhm you know what I think it's time you get a name, I can't just continue to call you 'Hey you'. What do you think about the name Sai?"

The Root agent stopped in his movements before cocking his head to the side. "Sai is acceptable," he finally stated and continued to draw the morning scene he had started.

Sighing and slightly disappointed because of the lack of reaction from the teenager Anko opened the fridge to take out the leftovers she had seized from Shiori's fridge on her way home the day before. She had a long day before her and according to Inoichi the second brat that would be under her direct command had passed the psyc evals yesterday and would now need to be shown the ropes.