Written for the naruto100 drabble challenge community (Live Journal) -- Challenge: Memories. Disclaimer: Naruto characters and universe are the creation and intellectual property of Kishimoto Ma...
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They'd brought him here exactly one week ago tonight. Strangers in painted porcelain had prodded Sasuke awake, escorting him through a dark and slumbering Konoha to the solid gates of the Uchiha estate where they'd informed him of the terms of his release -- house arrest until further notice, he was not to leave the borders of the Uchiha compound without an ANBU escort. Then the eight ANBU had stepped back, falling into combat readiness around him.
Another time he might have been proud that they considered him such a threat in his weakened state. As it was he'd needed all his energy to gather and mold what little chakra he had to unlock the seals he'd placed prior to his defection. And when the gates finally stood open, revealing a painfully familiar, deserted thoroughfare, he'd nearly faltered. Had nearly turned around and begged them to take him back to his cell. But stubborn Uchiha pride had carried him forward one slow footstep at a time, the trepidation and foreboding far more intense than anything he'd felt walking into Ibiki's interrogation rooms.
He hadn't looked back as they'd closed the doors behind him. Had forced himself to keep moving through the abandoned estate, past derelict buildings, stagnant air pressing in on him along with the memories, thick as the dust and dirt of neglect that coated everything.
The vibrant colors, sounds and scents of childhood recollection painted watercolors over the grayscale of reality. There had been the flower shop where he'd bought his mother orchids. There had been the bakery where his Aunt had given him sweet rolls -- the ghost of her smile a constrictor around his throat. There had been the clinic where his cousin had treated his sprained ankle the day Itachi had carried him home.
Then the empty houses, each of them exuding reproving silence. Then the main house - unnaturally still with the heavy calm before a storm, generations of Uchiha chakra tainting the air like ozone. And then he was in the dojo where he'd found them -- Itachi standing over them, bloodied katana still in his grasp as he advanced on Sasuke with calculated lethal intent....
They'd brought him here exactly one week ago tonight.
Sasuke had lost count of the times he walked the familiar route of memories - good and bad. House arrest was proving far more torturous and trying than all the drugs and jutsu and Ibiki's questions combined. But if they'd meant to break him, they would be disappointed because every day the weight of the dead grew reminding him that his mission was not over.
As he paused outside the broken grungy windows of his Aunt's storefront, Uchiha Sasuke vowed that someday the there would be smiles and the ring of laughter and the competing scents of orchids and sweet rolls in the estate again. And that he would live to see it.
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Iri - fin 28 May 2007