Monsters In The House

Sasuke stared at the boy who wished to be his heir. The arrogance. The sheer audacity. Had Sasuke been this full of himself at this age?


Sosei stood flat-footed in front of Sasuke and Takuma, his nostrils flared, his lips curled in a smirk and his fists balled. Meanwhile, Takuma was silent. His face was expressionless like his uncle Itachi's had always seemed to be yet the flame in his green eyes betrayed his inward emotions. Sasuke couldn't properly gauge the boy's emotions, though. Was he angry or insulted by what Sosei had presented?

"The heir is determined by the Clan Head. Only Father can choose who he wishes to succeed him," Takuma said, before pausing and staring directly through Sosei. "If you think that you'd make a better choice, prove it." He said. Sosei was taken aback and Sasuke hid the pleasure on his face well. Before Sosei could respond to the challenge, however, Sasuke stepped in and cast his gaze on Sosei.

"The heir must also be a formally recognized member of the Uchiha clan, which you are not," the elder Uchiha said, bluntly. Sosei's face crinkled and Sasuke continued. "In order for that to occur, you must be able to perform the rite of passage jutsu, the Grand Fireball." Sosei's Sharingan eyes faded as Sasuke's statement settled in. For once, the boy's face went calm.

"Teach it to me," he said, in a demanding tone. Sasuke frowned and Takuma stiffened up at his side. If there was one thing Sasuke didn't tolerate in his home, it was disrespect especially not from his own children. But Sasuke paused before he did anything and thought for a moment. Sosei had just watched his mother get killed. He was alone and Sasuke was the only family that he had. Sasuke knew firsthand how cold that could make a person. Sosei, in his own disrespectful way, was demanding for Sasuke to love and accept him. At least, Sasuke hoped that he wasn't being too uncharacteristically lenient.

"Fine," the elder Uchiha said as he folded his arms. "I'll teach you this technique. But…" Sasuke stared into Sosei's eyes, entrancing the boy. "From now until the day you die, you will respect me as your father. Any transgression and I will punish you. Are we clear?" Sasuke asked. Silently and cautiously, Sosei nodded.

After Sasuke had had the brothers exchange names, Sosei didn't say another word until Sasuke had led him and Takuma to the Spot. Sosei looked around the giant, flat expanse as if he was quickly analyzing every stretch of the forest clearing. After a few seconds, he turned to Sasuke and Takuma. Sasuke walked forward and stepped in front of Sosei.

"The Grand Fireball jutsu requires six hand seals in quick succession. Snake, Ram, Monkey, Boar, Horse and finally, Tiger," Sasuke said. "After that, you muster the chakra into your lungs before you expel it from your mouth. I'll demonstrate once." Sasuke weaved the signs in a blur then literally breathed a fireball out of his mouth.

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!" Sasuke said. The flames died away instantly. Sasuke turned to Sosei who had seemed to be watching him intently.

In silence, he stepped forward and stayed still. Sasuke glanced at Takuma and saw that his son looked slightly nervous. And it seemed he had a right to be. Sosei weaved the signs nearly as quickly as Sasuke had and in one smooth motion, he breathed out the fireball.

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu," Sosei repeated. Takuma's eyes widened and Sasuke raised his head in interest. If Sasuke needed anymore proof, he had it right before his face. Sosei was his son.

Sosei turned and dipped his head respectfully towards Sasuke. When he caught eyes with Takuma, he smirked. Sasuke's heir had a strange look on his face. Panic. As soon as that expression appeared on the boy's face, every resemblance to Itachi he had faded. Sasuke had never seen his older brother look panicked during his life. To see it on a face that looked so familiar was unsettling and surprising. Almost as surprising as Takuma's next words.

"Can we spar?" he asked, looking up at Sasuke. "Sosei and I?" Sasuke folded his arms.

"You just finished your survival test half an hour ago. Are you sure that you want to spar against Sosei?" Sasuke asked. Without hesitation, Takuma nodded. His green eyes sent out a message to Sasuke. I need to see. Sosei and Takuma faced each other in the center of the clearing. Sasuke whistled. The two brothers began.

Takuma didn't stand a chance. Before he could ready himself, Sosei had begun to press his attack. Takuma struggled to keep up, not from fatigue, but from the sheer speed and ferocity of Sosei's assault. Without a Sharingan to predict Sosei's movements, Takuma was lost and barely managing to block his older brother's punches. Suddenly, Sosei switched up and swept Takuma's legs from under him. Takuma attempted to roll backwards only for Sosei to grab the collar of his shirt and lift him up.

Takuma's body slammed into the dirt and when he rolled over to try and escape, Sosei's fist fired down on him, stopping centimeters from the bridge of his nose. To his credit, Takuma didn't flinch. He stared at Sosei's fist with defiance. Sosei casually let go of Takuma's collar and rose to his feet. When he was up, Sosei offered Takuma a hand. The green eyed Uchiha refused and stood up on his own. Takuma looked at Sasuke and the elder Uchiha could see the disappointment and embarrassment in his face. Sasuke understood, but he couldn't help but be impressed.

Sosei was astounding. His impudence and arrogance aside, the boy was a marvel. Sasuke was surprised he learned and performed the Grand Fireball jutsu the first time by simply watching. Sosei had the Sharingan…but did he have it activated while he watched? With a one tomoe Sharingan, Sosei could copy the hand movements but not the actual jutsu. Sasuke didn't see or feel like Sosei had been watching him that way.

Regardless, Sosei's taijutsu skills were undeniably amazing. Fresh out of the Academy, Sasuke had estimated that Takuma was at least at chunin level in taijutsu from all of the training regiments he had gone through since he was able to walk, run and understand Sasuke's commands. Yet, Sosei defeated him within seconds. Perhaps if Takuma would've rested, he would've been sharper but Sasuke couldn't argue Sosei's speed and strength. He was just about as strong as Sasuke had been after he had left Konoha, perhaps even stronger.

Sosei smirked at Takuma as the latter dusted his shoulder off. "Want to go again, Lord Takuma?" Sosei jeered.

Takuma ignored him and walked away, sitting under the shade of a tree. Whenever he was stressed or failed at something, Takuma distanced himself. When he had failed to produce the Grand Fireball on his first attempt, Takuma went away and sat in reflection. In an hour, he returned and could perform without a problem. Sasuke watched as Takuma's eyes went to the ground and then off into the distance.

"I didn't beat him too badly, did I?" Sosei asked. Sasuke looked over at Takuma.

"No, not necessarily. He's just gathering inner motivation to fight you again." Sasuke glanced up into the sky. "It won't be today though. There are things we have to do. Your presence will have to be formally announced to the village and you'll have to registered into Konoha's system. And…" Sasuke said, trailing off. Sosei looked up at Sasuke and then away as if he had predicted what he would say.

"Mother's ceremony," he said.

"Yeah," Sasuke replied. Sosei was quiet for a little while longer before he turned to Sasuke.

"Will you avenge her?" he asked. Sasuke didn't blink.

"Not until I know why she was killed." Sosei scoffed.

"My mother told me you slaughtered so many in pursuit of the truth yet now you want to wait for information? For what?" Sosei said, his tone growing more indignant.

"Because I'm not a criminal living by my own creed anymore. That's something your mother failed to see. I reformed and committed to the rebuilding of my home," Sasuke said.

"Mother told me that you were a monster, feared across all the continent as the rogue avenger on a quest for blood. That was the man I thought I'd be calling my father," Sosei said. The elder Uchiha's face was exasperated. What all had Karin fed into this boy's mind about him? Sasuke closed his eyes.

"That's not who I am anymore," he said plainly. The raven-haired man walked under the trees where Takuma sat. The boy's green eyes looked up at Sasuke and then back to the fallen leaves in front of his feet.

"I'm sorry, Father," Takuma whispered. Sasuke raised an eyebrow.

"Don't be sorry." The Uchiha sat down next to his son and placed his hand on the boy's head. "In life, you'll have experiences that test you or humble you. There will always be obstacles in your life. What you must do is overcome them," Sasuke said, gently lifting Takuma's head so that he'd look at Sosei. The gray eyed Uchiha was practicing the Grand Fireball, forming the hand seals quicker and quicker every time while the fire ball grew larger and larger.

"He's good…" Takuma said softly. Sasuke nodded.

"Be better." Sasuke's green eyed son looked up at him and nodded. The fire was back in his eyes. Sasuke patted Takuma on his head and then rose to his feet. His onyx eyes looked to the sky. "Sosei, we're leaving." Sasuke said. The Uchiha's eldest breathed out another fireball, smoke exiting his mouth and nose as he turned. Despite firing off several Grand Fireballs in succession, Sosei didn't look to be tired at all.

"Coming," he said as he made his way over towards them. Sasuke led Takuma and Sosei out through the woods. After they emerged, they were greeted by a familiar face. The Hokage stood with his arms folded. From his expression, he had been waiting for a while and had something serious to discuss.

Takuma bowed slightly. "Lord Hokage," he said. Sosei cast him a confused glance and then looked at Sasuke. Sasuke dipped his head to Naruto.

"Naruto," Sasuke said.

"Sasuke," Naruto replied. "I came here as soon as Honami got home and still had to wait." His blue eyes then went to Sosei. "Ah, I see you found him, huh?" Naruto said, chuckling. "Slippery one." Sasuke looked down at Sosei and narrowed his eyes. Sosei shrugged.

"The Hokage had people guarding my room that escorted me everywhere I went. I wanted to come find you but they wouldn't let me so I snuck out," Sosei explained.

"Who'd you have guarding him, Naruto?" Sasuke asked. Naruto rubbed his chin.

"Ah, Kiba and some other chunin you don't know. Even with Akamaru present, I was surprised that Sosei slipped past undetected. They didn't realize that he was gone until I asked to see him. Impressive," Naruto grinned. He then looked down at Takuma's dirty clothes and up to Sasuke. The Uchiha shook his head and Naruto nodded. Sasuke was grateful that through all their trials together, the two shinobi had developed an understanding of each other.

"Why did you want to see me?" Sosei asked. "Did you find out why my mother was killed?" Naruto shook his head.

"No, the team I sent out is still going towards the Land of Water as we speak. They should be back soon," he replied. Sasuke narrowed his eyes. How many clones had Naruto sent out?

"Then what is the news?" Sosei asked. Naruto sighed.

"The final ceremony will be held for your mother tomorrow morning," he said. Sosei's face became more somber and he looked away.

"Oh. Ok," he replied quietly. Naruto smiled lightly.

"Hey, don't worry. You won't have to go through this alone," Naruto said as he reached out to Sosei. Sasuke's eldest son pulled away, staring up at Naruto with sorrow and hate-filled eyes. Familiar eyes to Sasuke.

"Yes, I will." Sosei turned and walked away from Sasuke, Naruto and Takuma. Sasuke watched him go and felt the chill of déjà vu crawl down his spine. Sosei seemed to embody everything that had been wrong with Sasuke at thirteen. His arrogance, his frigid and cynical views on life and his disregard for those above him. Sasuke shook his head and sighed.

"Takuma, go pick Kichiro up from the Academy," Sasuke said. Takuma looked from his father to Naruto and then sped off to do what he had been told. With both of his sons gone, Sasuke turned to Naruto. Naruto's face was almost grim.

"Sosei…reminds me of you right before you left. I can see it in his eyes," Naruto said.

"I know," Sasuke nodded. "The only thing I can do now is try and change his course."

"Once he meets Sakura, Kichiro and Hikari and gets used to them, I'm sure he'll come around," Naruto said with a smile. Sasuke considered that for a moment. Kichiro's positivity and energy were infectious and Hikari's innocence often melted Sasuke's cool exterior. It could work. But Sasuke didn't share Naruto's absolute optimism.

"Perhaps," Sasuke finally said. "His relationship with Takuma has already started off on shaky ground." Naruto raised an eyebrow.

"Really? What happened?" Naruto asked. Sasuke shrugged.

"Sosei's a genius," he said almost casually. "He got the Grand Fireball the first time he tried it and within about five times of firing it off, he could do the hand seals almost as fast as I could. He didn't even look tired. Before that, he took Takuma down within thirty seconds and with very little effort." Naruto nodded and rubbed the back of his head.

"Well, that seems to confirm our suspicion that he wasn't just some kid that hadn't graduated from the Academy. Sounds like he might be jonin level," Naruto said. Sasuke nodded and looked Naruto in the eyes.

"But you're not going to assign him to anything, are you?" he asked. Naruto shook his head.

"No. I'll see where his loyalties lie first before I decide on where to place him. Besides, I'll need to think on what'd be best for him and the village given his situation," Naruto said.

"Speaking of which..." Sasuke started to walk and Naruto walked with him. "Who'd you actually send?" Naruto sighed.

"An ANBU squad under Shikamaru's suggestion. We kind of agreed that they'd be better at reconnaissance than I would. I'd rather go to Kiri and see what's going on myself but that's just how things are," Naruto said. Sasuke watched Naruto's stubborn and frustrated face. He wondered if Hinata had told him that she was pregnant. Most likely not. Otherwise, every other sentence Naruto would've spoken would've ended with dattebayo from his sheer excitement.

"Your daughter did well," Sasuke remarked offhandedly. Naruto grinned.

"Yeah, I heard that you praised her. Surprised you with her Gentle Fist, huh?" Sasuke gave a barely noticeable shrug.

"Not really. I expected the daughter of the former Hyūga heir to be skilled. But the Hakkeshō Kaiten…" Sasuke said. Naruto smirked.

"So you were surprised!" he said. Sasuke scowled, albeit playfully.

"No," he repeated, searching for another excuse. When he couldn't find one, Sasuke let it go, although he knew from Naruto's grin that he wouldn't. The blonde Hokage waved.

"I've gotta head back to the office. Damned paperwork. See ya!" he said, disappearing in a yellow flash as Sasuke nodded.

Sasuke sighed softy as his feet led him to the Academy. He missed seeing his family. All he wanted now was to have a nice, peaceful dinner at home and then to sit out by the lake with Sakura and make love to her under the moonlight. None of that would happen. Not until Sosei got acclimated to living with Sasuke. The Uchiha had no idea how long that process would take but he wished for it to be quick.

He and Sakura had spoiled each other sexually, especially before Takuma was born. After Hikari had arrived, they had established an unspoken routine. Now, Sasuke's body ached for Sakura. It almost made him feel repulsed. He thought he was far more disciplined than that.

Outside of the Academy, the children had just begun to funnel through the doors. Sasuke's eyes caught sight of Takuma as he waited for Kichiro to come through. Sasuke allowed his face to curve pleasantly as the days of old passed through his mind until a reminder of the present situation appeared.

"How many siblings do I have?" Sosei asked. Sasuke turned and saw the boy sitting in the old swing set in front of the Academy building. Sasuke nodded his head towards Takuma and Kichiro as they approached.

"Including those two, three. You have a younger sister named Hikari, as well. You'll meet her and my wife, Sakura, today when I take you home," Sasuke said. Sosei jolted and looked up at him, seemingly startled by the word "home" until it's new meaning sank in.

"Home…" the boy said distantly. Sasuke looked over his eldest son as he tried to make sense of him. Brazen, arrogant, disrespectful, powerful, intelligent, damaged…all words that described the boy. All words that had described Sasuke once, or as some shinobi thought, still summarized his personality. Sasuke was sure that the boy had been arrogant beyond measure before. Being able to rightfully claim the name "Uchiha" now meant he'd be even more full of himself. But Sasuke couldn't turn him away.

He had to love him.

"Daddy!" Kichiro shouted as he raced towards Sasuke, grinning from ear to ear. "I have a jutsu I want to show you!" he said before stopping and looking at Sosei. Sasuke's eldest looked at Kichiro and he smirked.

"Heh, he looks just like you," Sosei commented. Kichiro blinked at him and then looked up to Sasuke.

"Daddy, who is this? He looks…like you…" the young boy said, drifting off. Sasuke placed his hand on Kichiro's shoulder.

"This is your older brother, Sosei. I'll explain on our way home," Sasuke said. The Uchiha men rounded up and Sasuke led them back home, explaining to Kichiro in limited detail how Sosei came to the village.

The little boy's eyes widened with every turn of the story, casting his black eyes on Sosei when he heard that Karin had been killed. Sosei returned his gaze with less malice than he had shown to Takuma. Perhaps, he didn't recognize Kichiro as a threat. Sasuke mused on that idea.

When the Uchiha Estate was in sight, Sasuke heard Takuma breathe a soft sigh of relief. He turned and saw Sosei's eyes widened at the sight of the expansive property. His eyes said what his mouth wouldn't. Wow.

The pleasant sight of pink hair welcomed Sasuke. Sakura and Hikari waved when they saw Sasuke and then paused when Sosei's face appeared. Sakura's face changed. The realization must've just settled in for her, Sasuke noted. As they got to the front of the house, Sasuke softly kissed Sakura on the lips and looked in her eyes.

Are you alright? His eyes spoke.

Yes. Sakura blinked. Sasuke nodded and smiled softly as Hikari reached out to him.

"Papa! I missed you!" she said, squeezing Sasuke's neck tightly. The little girl then looked down at her two brothers, Takuma and Kichiro, grinning widely. When her eyes looked to Sosei, she paused. "Papa…?" she asked. Sasuke glanced at his daughter and Sakura's slightly worried face.

"This is Sosei," Sasuke said. "He's your older brother and he'll be living with us now." Hikari frowned and folded her arms. Sasuke gave his daughter a questioning eye. "Hikari, what's wrong?" he asked.

"Not another brother! Why, Papa? Can we get a sister?" the pink-haired girl pouted. Kichiro laughed.

"Hey! We're not so bad. Right, Takuma?" he said, looking up at his older brother.

"We aren't," Takuma replied, casting a glance at Sosei as he answered. Sosei raised his head to look down on Takuma, his face full of indignation. Before things could escalate, Sakura pulled Sosei away.

"Let me show you where you'll be staying," she said, smiling at Sosei. A pleasant smile, but not entirely genuine. Sasuke could see that clearly. He wondered if Sosei could see it as well. Sasuke entered the house, with Hikari in his arms and Takuma and Kichiro on his heels. Hikari got down and ran in search of Sakura on stunted legs, leaving Sasuke with Kichiro and Takuma.

Kichiro didn't seem at all bothered by Sosei's presence in the home. In fact, he seemed almost welcoming. That was his nature. Sweet, excitable and kind. However, Takuma was uncharacteristically cold. Takuma had never been the most affectionate of people, yet his love for his family always shined through. His attitude towards Sosei seemed to have worsened from their sparring match at the Spot.

"Sosei will be accompanying us every time that we go to the Spot for training," Sasuke announced to his sons. Kichiro grinned and Takuma gawked at his little brother like his head and split down the middle.

"Cool! The three of us will definitely take you down, Daddy! Right, Takuma?" Kichiro cried, balling his fist and looking to his big brother. For a moment, Takuma's face was almost disgusted then it softened. He looked away and nodded.

"Yeah…" he responded. Sasuke sighed inwardly. Takuma was still in pain from before. The expression was plain on Takuma's face as the family gathered for lunch and Kichiro began to ask Sosei questions about himself, being constantly amazed by every answer that was given. Sasuke noticed it when Hikari even drew to Sosei, who despite his best efforts, couldn't shake off the joy that Hikari brought. Takuma sat in a corner, saddened. When it was time for them to go to bed, Sasuke pulled Takuma to the side.

"Are you alright?" Sasuke asked, though he knew the answer. Takuma nodded.

"Yes, Father…I-I just need to rest. It's been a long day," he replied. Sasuke gave Takuma a stern but concerned look over.

"Takuma, if you're upset over Sosei being here, tell me. I could ask the Hokage for other arrangements." But there won't be any change. Besides, I did volunteer to take him in. Sasuke thought. Takuma's face was unmoved and his eyes revealed nothing about what he was thinking.

"No, Father. I'm fine. I just need to rest," Takuma reaffirmed. Reluctantly, Sasuke let him go to his room and watched as the door closed behind him. Sakura held Hikari in her arms and passed Sasuke as she went toward's the little princess' room. Sasuke peered down the hallway where the guest room, now Sosei's room, was and made his way down. The door was cracked open and Sasuke pushed it and let it creak to alert Sosei to his presence.

When he entered the room, Sosei was sitting in the dark, staring at the wall with his Sharingan. The crimson light bounced over to Sasuke as Sosei watched Sasuke enter. The revelation came to Sasuke quickly. Sosei was training himself to grow accustomed to the Sharingan.

Sosei's room was still relatively empty. The guest room in the house had only a desk and a bed. All that Sosei had brought with him when and Karin had show up laid against a wall in his bag.

"Are you alright?" Sasuke asked. He prayed the question didn't come out awkwardly. Sosei's Sharingan eyes went back to the wall.

"Yeah. I'm getting used to everything. Slowly, I guess. Kichiro and Hikari are hard not to like. Sakura is actually quite nice. Nicer than Mother made her seem and prettier." Sosei blinked and the red light disappeared and then reappeared. "You and Takuma are the weird pieces of this puzzle," Sosei said.

"Oh?" Sasuke hadn't intended on carrying a conversation. He heard Sakura entering their bedroom and wanted to at least attempt to persuade Sakura to satisfy his needs. But he felt that this was important enough to listen to. Sosei nodded.

"Yeah. Takuma hates me because I'm stronger than him. You…don't like me because I upset the 'balance'." Sosei said, so matter-of-factly that he nearly threw Sasuke off. Sasuke blinked. It was an accurate assessment. One that Sasuke didn't even have an answer for. Expect one."

"It's not that I don't like you. It's just that I see everything that was wrong with me at your age in you. Clearly, your mother thought that being around me could help you. I intend to do just that. All right?" Sasuke said. Sosei's Sharingan deactivated and he laid his head back on his pillow.

"Sure," Sosei said softly.

Sasuke left the guest bedroom and went to his bedroom. Sakura laid facing the door and smiled as she saw him enter. The pink-haired kunoichi leaned up and her eyes looked up and down Sasuke's body. Sasuke slowly stripped his clothes off until he was in only his boxers and climbed into bed.

Sakura's touch was welcoming and she nuzzled her head into Sasuke's chest.

"How'd the bell test go?" she asked. Sasuke softly rubbed her back.

"It went well. The team performed better than I thought they would. Might not be so bad after all," Sasuke said. Sakura giggled.

"That's good," she said.

"How was yours?" Sasuke asked.

"Busy. I had some paperwork to do at the hospital and for Naruto. The Hokage let me go home early once they discovered Sosei had run off," Sakura said, looking up at Sasuke. "He just…looks so much like you. Even sounds like you."

"I know. There's so much I have to do with him," Sasuke said. Sakura rubbed Sasuke's chest and kissed his neck.

"Don't worry about it tonight, love. Just rest," Sakura cooed. Sasuke obliged and kissed Sakura's forehead. His eyes closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

However, despite his best attempts, Sasuke's body refused to rest. Something simply felt off. The Uchiha resisted tossing and turning to keep from waking Sakura and instead stared at the ceiling. Hours passed by. Sasuke still couldn't sleep. Perhaps it was the fact that Sosei now lived with he and his family that was disturbing the order of things. Sasuke closed his eyes as he tried to convince himself that that was the reason everything in his home felt wrong. But he couldn't.

As Sasuke laid in the dark, he thought he heard something or someone moving in the halls outside of his room. He glanced over to the clock at his bedside to see that it flashed 1:47 AM.

Narrowing his eyes, Sasuke rose from his bed, shirtless and grabbed a pair of pants from the floor. As he neared his door, Sasuke heard whoever was in the hallway stop moving. Maybe Sosei had gotten up to fetch himself a drink. None of the other children had ever woken up in the middle of the night like this. Sasuke couldn't shake the feeling in his stomach.

Something was wrong.

When Sasuke opened the door, he saw what it was. Standing in the middle of the hallway was a darkly dressed man. In one hand, he held a kunai. In the other arm, he cradled a sleeping Hikari. As soon as he caught sight of Sasuke, the tip of the blade went to Hikari's neck. It would be stupid to demand what the man wanted. His intentions were clear. He wished to do harm to Sasuke's daughter. The Uchiha's brow furrowed and his eyes quickly shifted from night to blood.

The man's kunai was clean and Sasuke listened intently for Kichiro's snores. If he was safe, Sasuke presumed that Takuma and Sosei were as well. All Sasuke needed to do now was worry about this invader and his baby girl's life. Sasuke took a step forward and as expected, the man pressed his knife to Hikari's throat. Fury simmered in Sasuke's chest as he thought on his next move.

He had no idea who this man was but the fact that he was able to sneak into Sasuke's house mostly undetected was a testament to his ability. He was also bold, to hold his knife to the only daughter of Sasuke's. What mainly concerned Sasuke now was the man's speed. He needed to know how fast he was before he wasted any unnecessary amounts of chakra. However, Sasuke didn't have time to clinically assess his opponent's techniques like he usually did. His daughter's life hung in the balance.

And with that thought, Sasuke acted.

He phased across the floor, catching the dark figure off guard. Sasuke heard the man's audible gasp as Sasuke wrenched Hikari out of his arms and stood behind him, with his back to his daughter's open door. Sasuke set her down quickly on a pile of stuffed animals in the corner. The man attempted to retreat but Sasuke was much too fast. His hand clasped the man's shoulder firmly and the Uchiha's eyes bore into him.

"You're done," Sasuke said as he looked out to the expanse behind his house, honing in on a single leaf falling from a tree as his left eye shifted from blood to lavender. Sasuke saw the leaf fall outside his daughter's room as he shifted himself and the man outside in front of the lake. The dark figure tumbled in the grass before rolling to his feet. Sasuke immediately placed himself between the man and the house. His left eye reverted back to the Sharingan temporarily as he and the figure stood across from each other.

The man coughed. "Teleportation jutsu," he said. "Cleverness befitting the famed Sasuke Uchiha." Sasuke narrowed his eyes.

"You know who I am...yet you invaded my home and attempted to take my daughter's life?" Sasuke's anger was almost gushing out of his mouth but he tried to calm himself enough to ask questions. There had to be a connection between this man and the two Kiri hunters that killed Karin. "Who are you?" the Uchiha asked. The dark man spat.

"We both know that my identity doesn't matter," he said. Sasuke scowled. His patience was wearing thin enough as it was.

"Then tell me who sent you." The dark man smirked.

"The person who sent me doesn't want me to return to them until I've completed the mission assigned to me. If that means cutting you down in the process, then so be it. They'll be pleased, I can guarantee that," the man said. Sasuke almost wanted to laugh but his fury forbade him. Instead, he replied with a confidence that chilled the summer air.

"Fine. Get past me."

As if that was a mission assigned directly from the mouth of a Kage, the darkly dressed man darted across the grass towards Sasuke. A short, straight sword glinted in the moonlight. A wakizashi. Sasuke didn't have any bladed weapons on his person. He didn't need them. His eyes were enough.

The assassin made a wide-arcing sweep with his sword and when Sasuke leapt over it, he jabbed upward. Sasuke's aerial roundhouse kick was fast. His heel landed squarely underneath the man's jaw and he spun through the air, landing with a thud near the bank. He didn't give up. The assassin rose back to his feet, shaking off whatever damage Sasuke had dealt to him.

The tiger hand seal he performed was familiar and when multiple clones appeared at the man's side, Sasuke knew what it was. Clones. Not illusionary clones either. The moonlight would've betrayed them. Considering the seal, they had to be water clones. The next few hand seals, Sasuke predicted before they even came. The assassin had attempted to mask them by splitting his body into four and cutting down the amount of hand seals he'd have to perform. The water in Sasuke's lake began to ripple and rose high above the assassin and his clones.

"Suiton: Daibakufu no Jutsu!" the man yelled as a massive wave of water started to crash down on Sasuke. The Uchiha stared the oncoming wave down and his left eye shifted into the Eternal Mangekyo, the pattern of his beloved brother's etched into his own.

The black flames of Amaterasu burst into existence, creating a massive black wall of fire in front of Sasuke. The waterfall technique didn't stand a chance and immediately evaporated as it made contact with the black flames. Almost blending with the ebony blaze, the assassin hurled himself over them and descended on Sasuke, his wakizashi now coated in chakra. Sasuke had had enough. All it took was a glance and the man was engulfed in fire. His screams died quickly as his body was consumed. Still, more clones of the assassin jumped over the Amaterasu, all armed with their short swords. They all suffered the same fate.

The attack was futile. Sasuke knew this and he knew that the assassin knew it. Why waste chakra attacking an exponentially more powerful opponent? Unless these weren't attacks. Sasuke frowned as the thought entered his head. This assassin was merely creating a diversion. To what end, Sasuke didn't know but he suspected that his assailant wasn't alone. Sasuke expanded the Amaterasu wall and turned back towards his home. When he did, someone was behind him.

Her shape was comely enough in her sleek, all-black attire and her icy blue eyes caught Sasuke off guard. Her blade dripped with a purple liquid, probably poison. Her sudden lurch forward was almost too fast and Sasuke launched himself backwards to get out of the way. Not because he feared her poison. But because someone else had decided to take care of her.

The poison wielding woman yelped and a ten foot crater was created from the impact that followed. Sasuke saw through the dust with his Sharingan and blinked. Rising out of the crater with a bloodied fist was Sasuke's wife, the Queen of Fist. Sakura Haruno. In her other hand, she held the limp body of another darkly dressed figure. He must've gotten into the house behind the man. Sakura was in rare form. Her fists burned with sapphire blue chakra and she climbed out of the crater and quickly looked behind Sasuke at the the Amaterasu wall and then back to him.

"I caught this one sneaking into Hikari's room," she said, dropping the body she held in her arms. To Sasuke's surprise, the man wasn't dead. Not yet anyway. With as many bones as Sakura's attack had broken, he'd die soon from internal bleeding if he didn't receive treatment. Sasuke nodded and turned back towards the wall of black flames, causing them to dissipate with his left Mangekyo. As the wall fell, Sasuke saw the sacrificial lamb, laying on the ground grabbing desperately for his leg. When he saw Sasuke and Sakura approaching, he froze.

Without a word to Sakura, Sasuke pressed towards the man. The Chidori came naturally to his hand, the sound of one thousand birds chirping and lightning crackling echoing out in his yard. The man desperately attempted to back away, squinting his eyes in pain as he backpedaled on his burnt leg. As Sasuke closed the distance, the man did the unthinkable.

"Mercy! Please! Mercy! I'll tell you what you want!" he yelled. Sasuke's rage erupted inside of him like a volcano. Susano'o's purple ribcage and right arm manifested in an instant and the assassin was lifted into the air and squeezed. Sasuke stared the man down with his Eternal Mangekyo, eyes widened as his fury started to fester and spread like a fungus in his mind.

"You invade my home, threaten to spill the blood of my children and you ask for mercy?!" Sasuke yelled as his Susano'o began to crush the man he held. Blood dripped onto Susano'o's thumb as the man coughed. Sasuke eased up on his grip slightly. He needed the man to answer the question he had asked before. He refused to kill him before he received information. "This is the last time that I'm going to ask you." Sasuke growled. "Who. Sent. You?" he said. The assassin grit his teeth. Then, for some strange reason, he smiled. What appeared to be a seal appeared on the man's neck and head. Sasuke realized instantly that it was the writing normally placed on an explosive tag.

"For Yashin…" the man said.


Before the full explosion could be set off, Sasuke crushed the man's entire body in the hand of his Susano'o. A small explosion then set off, spreading the assassin's body parts on the bank. Blood spurted on the grass and on the rib cage of the chakra manifestation.

Sasuke wanted badly to feel relief from executing this invader that wished to do harm to his family, yet his mind felt even more heavy than before. So many questions rampaged through his mind. Why had his home been chosen? Why were they after his children? Who or what the hell was Yashin? Whatever or whoever it was, it was a name that might be a lead easily.

"Sasuke," Sakura said. Sasuke had almost forgotten his wife was present. When he turned to face her, he froze in his tracks. Sakura held forehead protectors in her hand, both of them with Kiri symbols inscribed on the metal. That wasn't what gave Sasuke pause. Standing outside the house behind Sakura were Sasuke's four children.

They were staring at the ghostly monster that surrounded Sasuke.

Sosei stared in awe.

Takuma stared in confusion.

Kichiro stared, his face pale with fear.

Hikari cried.

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