When a Red Rose Turns Black (Finale plus Epilogue)

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Chapter Thirty-three: When a Red Rose Turns Black

It was a pair of lips, ghostly to her, touching Krystal's forehead that minutely disturbed her slumber in the dawning morning. She did not wake, but simply shifted a little, pulling down the sheet from covering her. A thin, lavender night-dress hugged her body.

The person lingering above her, making sure his action had not roused her, was none other than her husband of nine years, Uchiha Sasuke. A total of eleven had passed since the night he chose between taking her life and creating one for himself. Luckily, for the both of them, he had chosen the latter.

As he withdrew from hovering, his face was closed over by an ANBU mask copying the countenance of a feline with three commas, like his curse mark, on his right cheek. He was dressed in the traditional style of ANBU wear, including the padded armor and his kusanagi strapped to his back. A note was dropped onto the pillow where his head normally lay. Krystal moved. He proceeded in leaving the room.

The halls of the Uchiha Estate, through which he currently advanced, were easy to navigate in, not only with his acquired night vision, but also because the light of the breaking day shined nearly uninterrupted by paper sliding doors or windows. Unlike the years in which it had rested vacant, it was well looked after, much less dark than its history. He remembered when the Estate was more busy, when an entire clan with generations of ninja filled it . . . not simply three occupants.

“Daddy?” he heard, as if cued. The voice belonged to a young girl, eight-and-a-half years of age, with large eyes as black as his under girlish lashes; she looked a lot like he did when he was young, but there was one difference he was more than proud to admit: the Konoha hitaiate around her neck.

She was not the youngest kunoichi to have graduated Konoha’s Ninja Academy, but she was younger than he had been.

Tardily, Sasuke turned slightly and lifted his mask away from his face, glancing at his daughter. Her hair was more ebony than night, parted on the right and draped over her forehead; it was cut short, for a girl, but on a boy, it would have been a “normal” length. It was mussed from rest.

“Hn.” Sasuke smiled microscopically. He and Krystal had created an unbelievably cute, strong, Uchiha child, the first in restoring his clan. Only a small part wished for her to be a boy, someone to be an heir.

At least it meant he and Krystal could keep trying.

“Go back to bed,” he directed quietly.

“ But . . . where are you going?” she asked with little volume restraint. “Sometimes when you’re wearing ANBU clothes, Mom’s with you ‘til you get to the Gates.” Her eyes widened and she gasped. “YOU’RE SNEAKING OU—?”

Sasuke quickly covered her mouth and shushed her. He whispered fiercely, “I’m not sneaking out, you’re mother knows perfectly well that I’m leaving! It’s just a mission, not of vital importance.” That was a lie. Not only the first two parts, but the third, as well. This was to be the greatest mission of his entire shinobi career—his very life. The simple thought tensed his muscles with excitement.

He could tell by the suspicious look she gave him that she knew it too.

“This is our little secret, okay? Don’t tell Mom,” he offered. When she still looked defiant, he added, “A ninja must know how to keep secrets. No matter what, don’t let Mom know you know something. It’s training! And I’ll reward you if you succeed.”

The little genin’s eyes widened and sparkled. Training. . . .

Unfortunately, “Mom” had already been awoken. “I can’t believe you’re bartering with our daughter to lie to me! What the heck, Sasuke?” she exclaimed in a raised tone. “A note. A note? Could ya sink any lower?”

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