The ANBU application form lay innocently on his dresser.
Everything had been neatly filled out, sparse and short. After all, the long and detailed testimony of his years' hard labour as ninja elite was already enclosed in one of the thousands of personnel files kept hidden in the Hokage Tower. The application wouldn't have even found its way to his home if the file hadn't already been studied and his character assessed.
All he had to do now was hand it in.
It lay on his dresser for over a week.
Naruto saw it and said nothing. He paid it no more attention than he would /her/ hairbrush, too focused on coddling /her/.
Another of a seemingly endless line of glass masks that made up his life. Maybe that was one of the reasons he had protested so hard when /that/ mission came up. Somehow, in that short span of time, something had switched on in him, some hidden need and longing that he could not acknowledge.
Sometimes he barely knew who he was. Was he Sasuke-chan, the tiny child who idolized his brother and smiled so freely? Was he Sasuke, the broken ninja elite who lived only for revenge and missions? Or was Saki-chan, the sweet, beautiful, precious girl who loved Naruto with all her heart and was /able/ to show it?
Or was he the Hebi, the masked assassin unseen in the dark whose bite was swift and fatal?
Did he really want yet another mask, yet another burden, yet another shield? What were all these things protecting? Who was he underneath it all?
He slipped the application form without expression into the the tiny, obscure slot in the wall of the tower, where hundreds of ninjas pass by. Anyone of them who had come before him or after could have done the exact same thing and he wouldn't know.
Uchiha Sasuke needed to become stronger, to become deadlier.
/Saki-chan/ only needed to exist.