Warnings: f-ck warnings, it's the last chapter. you guys know what this fic is about. Itasasu. More notes below.
"Let's grow old together and die at the same time. (White Lies, To Lose My Life)"
The gate is unattended; at a second glance a group of children is playing make-believe in the guard post.
As they spot the strangers they interrupt their game and rush at them.
Itachi kneels down and whispers something in the tallest boy's ear. He opens his eyes wide and nods before running away.
His friends stay, gesturing the brothers to follow them.
They pass through a wide area that looks like a camp, with tents and buildings under construction, before arriving at what appears to be the core of this village.
Here the streets are vibrant and lively. The houses are all quite new and very simple, but each one has its own peculiar shape and color.
Like its villagers.
As if all those people and their houses were samples of humanity and its diversity.
They hear noises from what looks like a training ground. Then silence, and they're suddenly attacked. Sasuke unsheathes his sword and effortlessly blocks it.
Young voices murmur their admiration for the stranger.
"You can't beat me…Suigetsu." Sasuke grins.
"Watch your mouth, Sasuke. You're talking with the owner of the Seven Swords".
Replies the other with a smug look.
"Six." rebukes Sasuke: everyone knows Killer Bee has Samehada.
At least there is someone who doesn't back out from a good fight, Suigetsu thinks, but his joy in seeing Sasuke is much deeper than that.
Suigetsu keeps bragging until he is cut off by a high pitched scream, a sequel of insults and a loud "I'm so happy to see you!".
Not even Kusanagi prevents Karin from hugging Sasuke so strongly he can barely breathe.
Uzumaki people are strong indeed.
He doesn't complain, not even when she looks at him, then at Itachi, then at him again, probably weighing their chakra and everything that comes with it.
She notices how tall Sasuke has become, how his hair are still unruly even if they are longer, and his bangs almost cover one eye until he shakes his head to shift it.
He is still pale and slender, much like his brother, because she recognizes Uchiha Itachi from his chakra and the resemblance with her friend.
The older man's skin tone is less pale, his hair are straight and neat, he has distinctive tear troughs and his eye shape is slightly different, but nevertheless they look like each other.
They are both attractive men. They both are intimidating in their own way.
Karin sees their chakra. It explains their eyes.
Sasuke seems to harbor a raging storm that threatens to burst out if he doesn't keep it under an impassive mask.
Itachi holds a fire inside, a deep warm fire buried underground. He is calm and collected, knowing that nothing can put out that fire.
"Karin, let him breathe…"
Says Juugo with his usual calm tone.
His curse mark is smaller. He has it under control now.
That's why he looks more confident, happier.
There's another reason: Karin.
The way she looks at Sasuke is caring and affectionate but it's not the same look as before. That ones is only for Juugo.
Karin takes his hand and pulls him closer to her and Sasuke, for a big collective hug.
Suigetsu looms teasingly over the group, close enough to touch them.
Itachi smiles at the heartfelt display of affection.
Finally his beloved brother is amongst his true friends, whom he didn't have the chance to see but about whom he heard many stories.
About whose loyalty and love for Sasuke he saw in his brother's memories.
A loud caw and a screech interrupt their moment.
Sasuke's hawk is flying over them. Itachi's crow is following it mischievously, multiplying then returning one again, taking advantage of the raptor's confusion to pull his tail.
They both land on Juugo's shoulders.
"Crows like pulling tails. They are smart and playful animals."
He explains, handling it to his owner.
The brothers haven't seen the birds since days. They often send them ahead but usually they return soon.
This time they must have enjoyed this place so much that they decided to wait for their owners here.
The hawk reaches Sasuke's arm, closing its eyes under its master's pats.
"Anyway the crow always looked after the hawk."
Just like Itachi.
Life forced him to pull his little brother's tail hard.
Yet he always watched over him.
The hospital is peaceful and clean except from a room full of test tubes and books.
Some things never change.
His research must have been a complete success. He looks younger and healthier.
"I had a feeling you would have looked for me once again, Sasuke."
The man remarks, smirking.
Orochimaru hoped to see Sasuke again.
He knew that his former pupil was a free spirit, that he would never be content in Konoha, that he would never forget his ideal, yet he hoped he was wrong.
Living in a small world with a narrow mindset would have been easier.
Orochimaru can't help but feel proud that his pupil succeeded where he failed.
He improved the Edo Tensei like no one ever could. Not even him.
It must have taken a long time and great effort.
He is proud that the young man is a free thinker, guided only by his values, not those imposed by Konoha's hypocrite system.
He can't help stare in awe when Itachi's left eye activates Rinnegan.
Itachi doesn't need to intimidate him; he knows that the snake sannin has no hostile intent.
Nevertheless, his big brother instinct kicks in. Just in case.
The young boy who wanted to become stronger, who followed him, perfectly aware that he would have to give him his body, the young man who summoned him to learn everything he ignored because he wanted to understand the brother he chased throughout all his life, is an adult now.
Yet his brother is still the force that moves him, Orochimaru thinks, shaking his head.
Maybe Itachi is the only way to predict where the wind will blow when it comes to Sasuke.
Lastly they meet Kabuto.
He is healing a child's leg, looking tired but serene.
They say that he is the one who works the most, both as a medic and as a teacher, but Karin complains loudly: she works with him therefore both of them work the most.
Kabuto is overjoyed at the sight of the two brothers.
When he was trapped in Izanami's loop he experienced firsthand their love for each other, Itachi's will to protect Sasuke and Sasuke's pain for being forced apart.
The group shows them around, pointing at this and that, bickering and screaming, asking about their former leader's opinion on countless matters.
A few steps behind his brother listens carefully to the older ones' explanations.
They traveled for a long time, using Orochimaru's hideouts as lodgings, until they decided that their continent and its fake peace and order were no longer for them.
They wanted something more.
At times the group split up, each of them looking for something different, but they always reunited.
Although there was nothing to keep them chained to the others, there was an unbreakable bond between them.
They cared for each other. They loved each other. They were a family.
They hated admitting it but when someone wasn't there they missed them.
Even Juugo and the too many animals that slept in his room.
Juugo always had the habit of saving animals.
He saved a child once. Then another one, and another, until there was a bunch of orphans following them.
Even Suigetsu and his constant picking up fights because he needed to keep his collection of swords in exercise.
He defended the weak but was often found drinking with those he beat up. He said he enjoyed liquor, no matter who poured it.
Besides, most of those criminals were just rogue nin who had lost their job and purpose to a peace that didn't offer anything in return.
Even Karin's bossy attitude.
She insisted that the orphans called her big sister, not auntie, because she was young and beautiful.
She never scolded those who called her mommy; in her heart she enjoyed it.
She cared for all her boys, young and old.
Even Kabuto and Orochimaru's weirdness.
Unlike the others, tentatively following their instinct, Kabuto had a purpose: to atone for his crimes by helping as many people as he could.
He would never forget that Itachi saved him. He wanted to be worth of his trust.
Orochimaru observed them, neutral.
Once they were his test subjects and assistants.
They were scared, for he had preyed on their fear. They were selfish, for they had to survive.
They had grown up. They had forgiven him. They looked up to him. They cared about him, even.
He would have never thought such details could matter so much.
"It's a challenge" Orochimaru said when they left the last outpost of humanity –nothing more than a wasteland –towards an empty, barren land.
They all agreed that the sannin's smile was scary when he inspected the enormous plain of nothingness, envisioning how it would become.
They were undoubtedly the right people for claiming such hostile and useless land.
Hostile and useless, just like them.
Kabuto and Suigetsu used their water jutsu to create a lake and a river.
With the techniques replicated from Yamato's Hashirama cells Orochimaru created plants, trees, flowers, a fertile soil.
Juugo told his animal friends that this place was safe for them to live in.
After animals humans started arriving too; outcasts without a place in the world, people who had lost their families and their villages in a war between mythical creatures in a faraway land across the sea, or so they had heard, because the only thing they knew for sure was that their whole world had been wiped away by gigantic burning stones falling from the sky.
Juugo is in charge with security.
His animals patrol the land, inside and outside the village.
They can perceive chakra.
When they sense bad people arriving a seal is activated and the village becomes invisible.
There haven't been many bad people arriving anyway.
Those who come only need a second chance.
Just like them.
They are greeted by Karin, who senses chakra, lies and true intentions.
Suigetsu says she's not smarter than animals.
She hits him, he turns into water and people laugh, after a long time.
Kabuto takes care of their poor health.
Suigetsu keeps things in check because fights may happen between people from different countries and cultures and they can always be settled, be it through talking or through a brawl and a few drinks.
Orochimaru doesn't take part in these activities. He created the environment; he is a scientist, not a philanthropist. He enjoys the observation though.
"It is an experiment," he says, "a study on social behavior".
Karin jokes about him having become a good old man, after a young woman they walk into bows respectfully, without an ounce of fear, to greet him.
"What a nonsense" he adds, "I'm not old."
They arrive at a lake whose water is impossibly blue, surrounded by trees and flowers that shouldn't exist in the same place.
"Here snakes and birds live together,"
states Juugo, pointing at the luxuriant scenery.
"How is it possible?" asks Sasuke, no longer masking his curiosity.
He's no longer around people who used his ideals and feelings to manipulate him into submission, he can express himself freely now.
Just like he used to, around his former team.
"Because we want to" Orochimaru replies, "This place is a paradox. An impossibility made possible by our will."
"You will like it here," he adds, "You are two paradoxes as well."
Karin explains that she recognized Sasuke's chakra when she spotted the birds.
They couldn't wait to see him again; they wanted to set everything up for his arrival but there was too much to do.
It takes time to build a house; the only decent place available is a nearby shed.
She can't imagine that Sasuke will love it.
A wooden cabin hidden by the trees, just like the one where his new life began.
Itachi never had dinner with such chaotic people.
He has perfect table manners, as becoming of the destined leader of a prestigious noble clan.
He lived on food pills during his Anbu years. Later, because of the illness that gave him constant nausea he barely ate.
Since he's been brought back he enjoys eating with Sasuke, just the two of them sharing food and talking quietly, a simple act, but for someone who had been stripped of everything like him –like them –it was pure bliss.
He enjoys the noise and the silly fights over food.
He drinks the liquor Orochimaru pours for him and Sasuke, jokingly remarking that in the past this would have never happened because they were both underage, conveniently omitting what happened between them all.
That part of their past is gone. He doesn't need the Rinnegan to see how Orochimaru has changed.
He answers everyone's questions, in the meantime he squeezes Sasuke's hand under the table.
The younger is used to their chaos, but somehow their presence brings him back to a past where he defended Itachi's memory, although not against them, who never judged him.
Itachi's warm hand brings him back to reality, until Sasuke sees things as they are.
They like Itachi, that's why they ask him questions.
They are not Konoha people. For them his brother is neither an abomination nor a killer.
It's their former leader's beloved brother. It's their new amazing friend.
When the feast is over, just as Karin and Juugo walk arm in arm, Itachi takes Sasuke's hand.
Suigetsu is about to tease him; the former leader of their group, the one who defeated Orochimaru, the one who defeated a so called god, walking hand in hand with his big brother.
He doesn't say it though. No one better than his former comrades know how much he loved Itachi, how strongly he suffered knowing the truth, how hard he fought to avenge him.
Now they see his love before their eyes. A love that brought Itachi back from the grave, that
gave him the greatest power because Sasuke didn't need it, because the only thing he needed was him.
Even though it's very late they are not tired.
They are excited for the many possibilities that this place might bring.
It's like starting a new chapter of their lives, but at the same time they feel that their wonderful journey –of which they'll always cherish each memory –is over.
It's a warm feeling, coming home at last.
Sasuke thought he had forgotten his former comrades' voices, their gestures, their quirks; on the contrary, everything they did was familiar.
He had chosen them.
He hated to admit it back then, but he knew well that he needed their abilities to find Itachi.
So that he could kill his terminally ill brother, who took medicines to prolong his life so that Sasuke could end it himself, something he wasn't able to do anyway.
They fought, he used all his attacks and yet he couldn't defeat him.
He wasn't strong enough to reach him. He ended up watching him die in front of him.
The memory of Itachi's burnt arm, his injured leg, his hand clutching his chest while coughing blood will always make him shiver.
He had chosen them but they had chosen him too, when they stayed after his goal had been reached, when they helped him towards his new goal, avenging Itachi, then protecting the village in Itachi's memory.
They were truly loyal. He had been loyal too, until he had to choose between Karin and Itachi.
They all knew that in his mind, in his heart, in his soul, there was no place for anyone else.
It wasn't rare that Sasuke talked about his old team, who had tried to lessen the anger, the desperation, the pain he felt.
It hadn't worked for him, but it had worked for them: trying to make him smile, doing small and big tasks for him had lessened their own burden of sadness.
He never talked about wanting to meet them, so before arriving Sasuke didn't have a clue about Itachi's destination.
He didn't even know if he had a place in mind or if he would decide it along the way.
It didn't matter because he trusted him. Besides, every place would have been perfect if they were together.
Every place was perfect because Itachi is perfect: once again Sasuke is surprised by his brother's foresight and ability to read between the crevices of his heart.
Itachi saw that he would have liked to meet his friends long before he did, but there was more.
Itachi wanted to give Sasuke everything he deserved –Sasuke deserved everything –but couldn't have because of Konoha, because of life, because of him.
For Itachi what Sasuke deserves is not just his protection and his endless, eternal, devoted love.
He needs roots, a place to belong, friends and people who love him for who he is.
Even if said friends are remainders of a dark past, even if Orochimaru has been an evil man for most of his life.
When he had access to Sasuke's memories Itachi saw how much they respected and cared for him, unlike those he left in Konoha.
Sasuke is not able to read Itachi's heart with the same ease.
He is not like Itachi and he doesn't want to be. Not anymore. He is luckier because he can admire his perfection. He can live beside such perfection.
Nevertheless, he knows that there is one more reason behind his decision.
A selfish one, although selfish is not the right word to define his older brother's need to give his new life and power a bigger purpose.
Every place would have been perfect, Sasuke always said.
For Itachi it was the same. He loved wandering with his brother. He loved the intimacy between them, whether they were the only humans in a forest at night or strangers in a crowded town.
He loved how the younger depended on him for orientation, guidance and much more.
It's the first time that they see a bathtub whose legs are shaped as lion paws, one of the many different objects brought here by people from different cultures and aesthetic taste.
The light of countless candles dancing on his chiseled bare chest, Itachi points out his marvel at the vastness of the world and the diversity of its people to a seemingly distracted Sasuke, who enters the tub and rests his head on its edge.
The elder knows why his brother is so silent: he is overwhelmed by emotions and resurfacing memories but most of it all he is afraid to lose what they have.
The precious complicity, the intimacy they share, the meaningful words, the comfortable silences, the hungry kisses, the light touches, the heavy caresses, every facet of their love, the kaleidoscopic bond that escapes definitions and boundaries.
He is frightened of not being Itachi's only thought anymore.
Something always came before him, in the past. Training, their father's orders, missions, Konoha. Even capturing Naruto was more important than fighting him.
Sasuke knows, now, that Itachi loves him more than anything and anyone.
He knows that his older brother sacrificed his whole life for him, that he devoted the new one to him as well.
Itachi listened to him like no one ever did. He cared for him. He embraced the madness that was creeping inside him since the war ended –not before. They said he was crazy when he attacked the Kage. That he had fallen into the darkness when he killed Danzo but he knew exactly what he was doing. He was avenging his brother, a lucid act that they condemned as insane to keep their consciences clean.
Itachi betrayed Konoha for him. He killed for him. He set off on a journey to find his brother's old comrades.
Knowing that Itachi's love for him and his need to use his power –he never thinks about his Rinnegan as the power he gave him –for good are two different things doesn't help Sasuke.
He is scared that Itachi will entrust him to his former teammates, that he will no longer watch over him.
That he will no longer love him.
Sasuke doesn't need to be entrusted to someone.
He doesn't need a new Naruto. He doesn't need a new Konoha.
He wants to stay with Itachi because he loves him, and he wants to be loved by him.
Every time Sasuke adjusted to the sudden changes that shook his life since the massacre, every time he found a way to react, a new event occurred and he had to start all over, picking up the broken pieces, that became smaller and more shattered each time, with each hit.
Like their meeting in the woods, that brought him an indescribable joy, but when he disappeared Sasuke was alone and desperate.
He wished to cling to him as he was fading away.
He wished to grab his hand and never let it go.
He wished to close the distance between their mouths, as their foreheads touched.
He wished to be inside Kabuto's head, where he and Itachi were still fighting side by side, where they still had time.
Sasuke needs reassurance. Itachi's eyes are full of love and understanding as he caresses his cheek.
"Nothing will change between us, Sasuke. I promise" he says, softly.
The younger's look lightens up. He needed to hear this.
"I will never abandon you." Itachi cups his face with both hands.
"I love you, Sasuke."
He whispers, kissing the younger's lips. It's a chaste loving gesture, until Sasuke opens his mouth ever so slightly, and Itachi can't help but do the same and it's like opening a dam and letting his soul pour into the other through the contact of their lips and touch of their tongues.
When he breaks the long kiss Sasuke's face is flushed and his eyes half closed.
Hypnotized by the elder's deep gaze, wanting more of those kisses, wanting more of his soul that he just tasted.
Itachi enters the tub, settling behind his brother, washing his hair as he always does.
Sasuke nestles against his chest, while the elder's hands massage his scalp then his tense shoulders.
"…I wouldn't mind living here…" Sasuke mutters.
Itachi kisses the back of his head.
"You will be happy here."
He hugs him tightly.
Just as Sasuke has a hard time expressing his feelings, he still can't relate himself to happiness.
"We will be happy here."
He grazes his teeth on Sasuke's neck. He kisses the junction between neck and shoulder, while his hands travel lower, from his waist to his groin to his hard length, pumping him slowly, while the younger moans, his hips bucking unto his hand.
The brothers start helping the village a few days after their arrival.
Itachi does everything, from healing the sick with Kabuto to assisting Karin in welcoming and counseling other newcomers to find their inclination, so they can settle, be independent, and give back to the community.
They all need to give back. They need to feel useful. Itachi sees it in their eyes.
Sasuke's inclination not being people oriented, he helps with building and repairing, not unlike what he used to do during his genin days, but his favorite task is taking care of the animals with Juugo.
He finds easier to express affection to animals.
Some things will never change.
Itachi often joins him, as he promised that they would be together, that he would never leave him.
Working side by side with his older brother makes him feel safe, content, worthy, no matter the task.
One autumn day the whole group, including Orochimaru, leads the Uchiha brothers to a newly built structure in the center of the village. In the largest room a little man is polishing a beautifully carved desk and a throne-like chair.
When they all compliment him heartily the artisan keeps dusting, brushing off their words as if his work was nothing special.
He worked hard but he did it happily because he wanted to thank those who helped him and his family.
These people are indeed special.
The noisy one with the sharp teeth who bets too often on the wrong side and has to pay drinks for everybody.
The quiet one who is always surrounded by animals and calls little children human puppies.
The girl with glasses who managed to get his wife out of the fragile state she was in, after the loss of their youngest son during their pilgrimage, by visiting her every day and chatting about everything that came to her mind.
The medic who never looks at people in the eyes but spends entire nights watching over them when they are ill.
The effeminate man who talks like he's way older, and the new arrivals, the young man with a kind smile and sad but warm eyes who's always willing to help, and his pale younger sibling, who works in silence and leaves before he can be thanked.
Casually tracing the hollow and pointy peaks of the chair Orochimaru says:
"Sasuke, I decided to help you in the past because I wanted to see you change the world."
He always welcomed any change. To him, stable meant stagnant.
"I still want to see the kind of world you have in mind, so…this is for you."
Sasuke's eyes widen in surprise.
Konoha rejected him and his ideas of change. He was deemed as crazy, unreliable, wrong, he was forced to hide his real self, succumbing to their manipulations in order to be accepted, but now his former mentor is giving him complete control of the place he built with the comrades he left behind.
He sits in the carved chair while all the eyes are on him.
Especially Itachi's. He is proud of his little brother, finally acknowledged as trustworthy.
Sasuke accepts without formality. Before the congratulations begin, the young Uchiha stands up, and with confidence he announces:
"You have done a great job so far, without me. So my first change is to leave the job to my brother, Uchiha Itachi."
A moment of stupefied silence follows the announcement.
Everyone is familiar with Itachi by now. They trust him completely just as they trust Sasuke.
Orochimaru smirks at another development he didn't foresee.
His former pupil is really special.
"My, my, the once power thirsty Uchiha Sasuke becoming sentimental and leaving everything to his brother…again …" he jokes, unfazed by the younger's glare, "…Fine. It's your choice, after all. I have the feeling I'll have a lot of fun from now on…"
Sasuke is serious as he addresses his old sensei.
"I wanted to build a better world because it was my brother's dream" he asserts calmly, after a brief glance to his brother, "but now that I have him with me..." he pauses, looking for the right words.
"Now that I have him with me I don't care for anything else, I have everything I want."
"I'm not the right person for ruling a village. Itachi is. He is smart, and wise, and selfless."
He sacrificed himself and the ones he held dear for the greater good, while I would have burnt everything to ashes in his name.
I would still do it.
"…He is perfect…"
The words slip from his lips as a barely audible whisper.
Itachi places both his hands on his Sasuke's shoulders. Now all eyes are on him.
The older Uchiha couldn't choose that path when he was young and the whole village was in danger.
When Sasuke –his precious Sasuke, his pure brother whose birth had blessed his sad existence –was in danger.
He used to be a criminal, a killer, a monster who didn't deserve such honor, a voice tells him.
Sasuke's eager, loving eyes give him strength, pulling him out of the swamp of guilt and self-hate.
Their friends' acceptance gives him confidence.
This is his new life. This is the village where everyone deserves a second chance.
Him included: he has the power to help all of them, to make his dream of a better world come true, to make the world a better place for Sasuke, like he desired as a child.
He won't make the same mistakes of the past though.
His voice is firm, unwavering, like his heart.
"I humbly accept this honorable position, on one condition."
Orochimaru is visibly thrilled at the new surprise.
"We will rule together."
The banner on the gate finally has some writing painted on it.
Koegakure no Sato.
The Village of Voices, where everybody counts and nobody is forgotten.
The name was decided with a vote.
Each part of the community, from agriculture to carpentry and construction, from the police corps, to arts and medicine, from the founding members to the newly arrived, everyone is equal and has the right to express their opinion, first in assemblies, then through their delegates in the Council, where the Kage expresses his final verdict only after having listened to all parties.
Civilians are involved in every issue. Nothing is kept secret from them.
People feel safe and happy. Population keeps growing from the inside and the outside.
Everybody loves the powerful but modest Kage.
Everybody loves his grumpy right hand, who makes sure that his brother's final decisions are followed through and his name is not disrespected -nobody ever disrespects him, but some habits are old to die- when he doesn't try to prevent the soft spoken yet stubborn Kage himself from working too much.
Before submitting his ideas to the council Itachi wants to know Sasuke's opinion.
Despite the frequent disagreements –the younger's ideas are bold, often reckless –he values immensely his insights, a result of growing up alone, with no real model, no heritage, no loyalty besides the oath he swore.
Only his unrelenting will and the memories of a happy life that had turned into a nightmare.
They both enjoy the moments before the official meetings start, when sitting by the carved table there is just him and the beautiful, vehement young man.
Sasuke doesn't mind being outsmarted by his wiser brother, but it doesn't stop him from saying what's on his mind.
He likes defying him after all. And he likes teasing him, so much that more often than not their exchanges turn into something else entirely.
It happens, sometimes, that Sasuke ends the debate by leaving the room. Or trying to. He never makes it because Itachi shoves him on the table –just what Sasuke likes, he sees it in the younger's eyes, as he loosens his hair, he hears it in the younger's words –to explain him the issue again, all the while kissing and biting every inch of his pale taut skin, relishing in every moan, shivering every time he arches beneath him, defying him again, urging him to sink deeper, calling out his feral side that the elder doesn't fear and hide anymore.
Kabuto runs the hospital. He is always considerate of others' ideas, but when it's time to decide he always supports Itachi, just as Juugo always supports Sasuke.
Orochimaru never expresses his opinion. He likes the discussions, though.
Sometimes he doesn't leave his lab for weeks, until he calls for a special meeting to announce his latest discovery to improve farming, health, or security.
No more experiments on humans for him. Climate and plants and bacteria are just as interesting. His countless jutsu, applied to the village's needs are more satisfying.
Besides, doing the same thing for a lifetime is boring, he says ironically.
On Itachi's suggestion Sasuke keeps learning from the sannin.
The elder noticed his inclination for research as soon as he was brought back. He told his brother that it would be a waste of potential if he didn't explore that part of himself.
Itachi wants Sasuke to learn as much as he can, to be more than a shinobi, unlike what happened in the old world, where fighters had to fight without knowing why and how the conflicts started in the first place.
Itachi enriched his baggage with history, philosophy and art, subjects he still loves.
He asked each family to bring the few books they owned to the library they built.
There wasn't much, until Orochimaru donated his own huge collection.
Karin is in charge of the school, where children study history and culture of every part of the world.
They learn how life is in the places where their schoolmates come from; they are reminded of what it's like to live in times of war and hardships, so that they'll appreciate peace.
They learn arts and crafts because the village needs all kind of abilities to function properly, because everyone has a unique potential, and everyone's contribution is equally important.
Although not a militarized village like Konoha, there are many who want to defend the place they love so much. There is no will of fire and no rhetoric in the authentic love for their homes and their families.
Suigetsu is more than happy to teach how to fight to adults and kids alike.
At times Orochimaru offers his help.
He considers himself a good teacher who was misunderstood, after all.
It's interesting to teach basic chakra control to people who never practiced it before.
Occasionally Sasuke and Itachi join them.
Karin and Juugo, always hand in hand, bring lunch for everyone.
Suigetsu complain that they should kiss in private; Karin teases him because he hasn't found a girlfriend.
The swordsman assures he has plenty. Someone laughs out loud; a female voice threatens to beat him up.
They eat together, enjoying the breeze and the sunlight.
And peace, for they have finally found theirs.
This is their new world order.
Sasuke's past idea of a new world was equal rights under an all-seeing ruler.
His ideal Hokage was not loved by citizens. It was someone strong enough to shoulder their fear and hatred.
He would have become that Hokage.
He wanted to be like his perfect brother, who willingly accepted to become a monster in the eyes of the same stupid people he protected, so much that the idea of bearing the world's hatred was a way to be closer to Itachi. To be like Itachi.
To be Itachi. So he wouldn't miss him anymore.
He never made it. He was beaten and manipulated, forced into a life he didn't want, until he brought Itachi back. Until Itachi lightened up his existence.
Itachi made his resolve, his plan real. And better.
The Shinobi Alliance now has a common enemy to keep them united and strong.
Not in hate and fear but out of love for their dear ones and determination to protect them.
Sasuke is remembered as the hero who died protecting Konoha from that unknown threat.
He is a martyr, unlike Itachi, still considered a monster.
The thought bites at him. Not at Itachi, for whom Sasuke's life, his safety, his reputation have always been more important.
Besides, that is not their life anymore.
This is their life.
A village that loves them both.
A village that knows everything he did and still accepts him.
A village that respects Sasuke.
A place that's both real, for they built it and call it home, and ideal, for it represents the realization of their ancestor's wills.
Here Senju and Uchiha work together. Here there is no discrimination.
This is their life now.
His brother, alive, safe, surrounded by companions who don't want to change him. His brother beside him. His pure, childlike smile that's just for him.
Not for his friends -he smiles at them, but not in the same way- not for Orochimaru, who stares at him like he's looking at a masterpiece, and at Sasuke as the genius who created it.
"You made my dream of immortality come true, Sasuke."
He says. The younger lowers his gaze. He doesn't reply. Itachi doesn't either.
After a long silence, filled by the chirping of birds and distant voices, he speaks softly, his hand on top of his brother's.
"I'm not immortal. I intend to live until Sasuke lives, and die with him."
There is more but he doesn't need to say it.
Not now that the sunrise colors Sasuke's pale skin with a rosy shade.
Not now that his eyes are speaking in a silent language that's only theirs, telling that Itachi made his dream come true. His sensei wanted to defeat death, he wanted his most important person to come back. His sensei calls it immortality, he calls it love.
They both call it love.
That's why if Sasuke wants him to slow the passing of time for his friends as well, he'll do it.
If Sasuke wants to live forever he'll live with him forever.
If Sasuke wants to grow old he'll grow old with him.
If Sasuke wants to die he'll die with him and they'll go to the other world together.
If the cycle will continue, if they will have to be born again, if they'll be separated, he will find his brother. His soulmate, for their souls are connected and their bond is stronger than life and death.
If there's a price to pay for bending the rules –life and death, time and nature –Itachi will take Sasuke's burden upon himself.
He will protect Sasuke for eternity, as he swore when he first saw him.
That's what a big brother does: protect his younger brother.
That's what he wanted.
I hope you liked this ending and the whole story. Even though it turned from Sasuita to Itasasu, so for Sasuita shippers it might be disappointing.
I loved Sasuita dynamic only when I first conceived this fic, but as I was writing, because of various reasons and because of a major clarity thanks to the writing itself, my perception of their dynamics changed.
I am tired of this psycho Sasuke/submissive Itachi. I just can't see it...
I like mentally disturbed Sasuke and Itachi who submits to a "figure of authority" but this is different. I can't help but see Sasuke's masochistic side stronger than his sadistic dominating one, and I can't help but see Itachi's controlling side and his old brother side stronger than his submissive side. So, to me Sasuita is a phase that could exist in such similar context, but that would end at some point, when Itachi decides it's time for him to return to lead, because Sasuke needs a lead. It's my opinion, not meant to be a general rule anyway. And it's the reason why despite the usual "uh I don't like the uke/seme separation it's so stupid" I agreed with, I am reversing their roles. To me it's not just a matter of sex, it's a matter of life dynamics.
I quoted Ray Bradbury in one of Orochimaru's lines (We are an impossibility in an impossible universe).
I wrote this story because I hated the ending and I wanted to fill in the blanks it left. Before writing a completely different ending I wanted to explain myself canon, in a way.
Fanfictions are the author's self-indulgence first, a study on characters and events after, and no matter how objective they may be, there is always a subjective point of view filtering them. Reality is filtered through the single individual's mind, fanfictions are no different. Anyway I think I did a good job with the characters, all of them, no matter what some may think, especially because even if I don't go around criticizing others' stuff doesn't mean I don't see flaws in their characterization. It's normal, everyone sees things differently after all. I am thoughtful enough to realize that it's what the author wanted to write. Fics/rps are first and foremost written to please the author and not the readers.
I don't hate any character, not even Sakura. When I uploaded the first chapters some anti-ending readers said I was not enough against her. This is stupid, because they were supposed to be friends so they should have trusted my own judgment, and because they didn't know what I clearly said I had already planned for the following chapters and they assumed they knew everything already, and also because blind hate for her character is really childish. I hate the way she's written too. I wanted to express my hate not like a child who points his feet and screams, but like an artist, using creativity to transform what's badly written and superficial into something meaningful.
From what I noticed in the reviews this story may have annoyed more than one reader. Those who wanted a post ending fic that explained the new situation didn't like the Itasasu parts because they just wanted a general fic. The Itasasu fans didn't care about other characters and the village and wanted smut. Some didn't like the way I write their relationship cause it's too dark and not healthy enough, or it turned from sasuita to itasasu. Some didn't like my style.
Well, sorry, but this is exactly what I wanted to write.
My style is how I want it to be. I use reiteration on purpose. I expand thoughts and stray from events on purpose. I focus on feelings and sensations more than acts during sex on purpose. I write violent/dub-con sex as a way to express certain feelings that words can't express on purpose. I don't like bdsm cause it's too structured and safe, I get bored with fluff. Not to sound arrogant but to me my way is the right way. Or I'd write different stuff, simple as that.
Now, this story made my own explanation of canon, and my own headcanons about own view that is stronger than everything that comes from the outside, no matter how many boruto movie and crap will come out, to me Naruto married Hinata for political reasons, Sasuke is in Konoha because he has been manipulated with guilt, and there is Itachi waiting for him in the cabin, and soon they will leave the village and have their own life and Sakura will marry Kakashi and they will live happily ever after.
As for the chapter itself, I made Itachi's crow able to multiply itself, for no particular reason.
I loved writing Team Taka here because they are they best friends Sasuke has, and I love their love for Sasuke, so I needed to have them in my grand final. They're really amazing.
Also people migrating to the village, different cultures integrating with each other, how a good village should be governed, are influenced by real life stuff I guess.
I thank all those who read this fic until the end.