*The Bridge Between Time*
I don't own Naruto
It wasn't often these days that the Uchiha lord found himself in an all-out rage, but that's just how he found himself as he glared harshly at the injured elderly man in the room. He was royally pissed. Sakura had never seen him such a way and fearfully, she stayed in place behind him. She didn't dare to even peek around him.
The power radiating from him was immeasurable and quite intimidating. Nobody moved and the only sound in the room was that of the injured man, whose breathing was labored as he clung to his injured side. Sasuke's stance alone was enough to make both of the ladies know that they'd better not take a single step in the man's direction.
Sasuke thought about just ending him and acting like none of this had happened, but then he had questions that he just needed to be answered. Sakura's hands held tight to his cloak, but he was so invested in his thoughts he didn't notice. All he knew was that old man had some explaining to do.
"You're awfully brave, speaking my wife's name as if you have any right." Sasuke spat, his voice menacing and quiet.
Neji winced in pain as he regarded the king, wishing he'd step aside so he could see her just once more. He was no fool and he understood everything that was going on, though some things were lost on him.
Sasuke had referred to Sakura as his wife, and by the way she'd come running up to him before was enough for Neji to know just what Sasuke meant to her and then there was her appearance. She hadn't changed, she was just as he remembered. It was as if she hadn't aged a day. Time was a tricky thing but he supposed it would be many more years into the future before all its secrets would be unveiled.
He didn't care about any of those things, he only cared to find Sakura, and he had. She was safe and beautiful, just as she always had been. He was happy, he felt accomplished and after thinking on it a moment, he smiled. He really had done it.
"Where have you come from and what is your motive for being here?" Sasuke questioned him coldly. "And I'd choose my words wisely if I were you. I will not hesitate to kill you."
Neji knew the dark lord was deathly serious. One wrong word or move and he'd be dead. He didn't think it would be such a bad turn of events since he'd completed his goal, but he did want to see her once more. To speak to her… Just one more time.
"I come from another time, far into the future." Neji rasped.
"Explain!" Sasuke ordered. His blood was boiling and he was trying hard to contain his fury and not unleash on the old man.
"Many years ago, when I was around the age you are now I started researching a place that was ancient and left in ruins. We suspected deadly chemicals to be in the area and with a fatal virus spreading like fire, we had to find out all we could. I never imagined the sight would have its very own black hole."
"Black hole?" Sasuke asked, having never heard of such a thing.
Neji nodded, taking a moment to breathe. "It's a time-space portal in which you can transport to any time, whether it be in the past or future and over an infinite span. It appears as a blue light."
"That light." It made sense. Sasuke felt Sakura's hold on his cloak tighten. She'd told him once that she believed she was from another time and Sasuke had come to the conclusion long ago that it was true. That strange blue light haunted him until he could deny it no longer. "You've been making it appear."
Sasuke's teeth clenched as he thought it over. That bastard had been the one making that portal appear and he was obviously trying to come after Sakura and Sasuke just was not having it. He'd become so angry he was trembling.
"I intend you no harm, I assure you. However, I did come here in search of Sakura. It was shortly after my research began that I asked Sakura to join me in the project. She didn't want to at first, having so many other obligations I knew it would hard on her but I was desperate and she agreed.
"It was the very first day she came along that it happened. She just vanished without a trace, gone as if she had never been there at all. There was no black hole by the time we started searching, but after extensively searching the area one day it was revealed. It took years but after extensive researching I was able to summon the portal at will, with the help of chemistry. But things still didn't go as I wished."
The man winced and panted for a moment, he felt weak and tired.
"It's crazy though, time. It's been so long… I've become an old man and then Sakura… She hasn't aged at all."
Sasuke's hand was on the hilt of his sword and his grip was tight. He only seemed to grow more furious over time. "What exactly does that mean?"
"The only way I can explain it is, our time's move differently. We may never understand it, but that's the way it is."
"So, what did you think, you were going to come here and take Sakura back with you?" Sasuke's eyes were fierce as he glared at the older man, but he did not look away. He was not afraid.
Neji could see that the Uchiha was overly protective of Sakura and he was sure no harm would be coming to her any time soon. He sighed deeply before he answered Sasuke.
"Originally yes. Sakura was my wife and I dedicated my life to saving her but in the end, I just wanted to know she was alive. I see she is, she's young and very much alive. If she'd been taken from you, wouldn't you have wanted to save her as well?"
Sasuke frowned. He didn't know what to make of all this and in his dumbfounded state he did nothing to stop Sakura from walking around him to stand before the man. She gave Sasuke a meaningful glance and he calmed slightly. There was no threat in the man, he'd be nothing to finish off and she wasn't getting too close anyway.
"You said I was your wife?" Sakura asked, taking the man in for the very first time. He had pearl eyes, much like Hinata's and long gray hair pulled back into a hair tie. There was something oddly familiar about it, similar to what she felt when she had first met the girl. A sharp pain shooting through her head seconded that thought.
He nodded, lips mulling together as he admired her. It had been so long but as he looked at her then, he felt like it had been no time at all. She was just as she'd always been and he didn't know what to make of it, but he was so glad to see her, to hear her voice.
"Yes, you were." It was obvious she'd lost her memories; his Sakura would have stopped at nothing to try and get back to him as well. She didn't remember him and strangely, it didn't bother the Hyuga.
He wanted her to live, to be happy and be safe. Nothing else mattered. She didn't have to remember it, he did. He had no regrets as his eyes took her in, all his pain forgotten. He still loved her, he always had, always would. But it was that love that made him be able to be happy for her, and even happy for himself.
"I always thought I came from another place, because of the things I was able to remember. I have never remembered any people from before arriving here, I didn't even know anything about myself."
"You were always strong, but after experiencing it myself I can tell you that the journey through time-space is excruciating on the mind. I believe that was more than likely the factor in which your memories disappeared."
"Will I never get them back?" Sakura asked him softly, because for some reason she wanted to remember him.
The man closed his eyes and breathed deeply before opening them once more to meet those green orbs. "Who knows?" He winced then and cried in pain and Sakura rushed to his side, only giving Sasuke a look of warning on her way. Hinata joined her at his side and they went about cleaning and tending to the wound.
It had still been bleeding and it took a few minutes to clean the area well enough for them to even be able to tell what they were looking at. It didn't appear to be a deep cut, but the affected area was large. All they could do was bandage him up and try to keep the bleeding at bay. It didn't look like it needed to be stitched up, but then he had already lost so much blood.
Hinata stepped back once there was nothing more to be done but Sakura lingered, far too long for Sasuke's liking. He was more tense that he ever had been and he felt that he'd much rather take on an army of demon-minions than to deal with something like this.
"Thank you." Neji whispered weakly and Sakura gave him a smile. He was an old man from the future who used to be her husband. It was crazy, but then nothing surprised her anymore.
"No, thank you. For caring about me enough to never give up on me." She was truly grateful for that.
"You would have done the same if things had ended up the other way around." Neji was thankful that Sakura had not had to endure all the pain he had. She had never longed for him after her disappearance, she'd forgotten all about him and therefore, she was able to move on with her life happily.
This pleased him. Though she was his wife originally and he would always love and remember her as such, he had no hard feelings knowing she was remarried and rewriting history as he knew it. It was possible she'd changed the Uchiha completely and if that was the case, there were so many other possibilities for the future of his kingdom, what were the very ruins he researched in his time.
He wished he was still young, there was so much to find out. The universe was full of mystery, but he took pride in knowing that thanks to him and his research, one day those mysteries could be revealed.
"I have something," Neji mumbled, feeling slightly lightheaded. He struggled to keep awake but he couldn't sleep until he'd explained everything.
Sakura knelt beside the bed and watched as he dug around in his pocket before pulling out a small capsule. He held it out and Sakura offered him her hand.
"This capsule alone has the power to manipulate time, with it you can work out exactly where you want to go, if you want to travel through time. I've also given my most trusted colleague information pertaining to the black hole, in hopes that one day there will be no more incidents like what happened to you. The capsule also contains valuable information and I don't know why but I feel as if it could help you here, somehow.
"Don't be too hasty, I'm not saying any of you should go playing with time, but I think you should study it, find out anything you can. You're smart Sakura, you probably would have figured things out much easier than I did, if you had been researching it." Neji groaned as a chuckle erupted from him. He was amused, but in so much pain.
"I understand," Sakura told him as she touched his hand to take the capsule. She gasped as she was taken aback by the sensation she felt from the slight touch.
It wasn't a physical sensation, but a mental and emotional one. In the instant she touched his hand, she remembered everything. Seemingly every moment from her life before the incident flashed before her eyes. Her head ached as it struggled to grasp all the old, newfound memories. She felt dizzy and also heartbroken. She recovered herself to hold more tightly to his hand.
It was devastating to realize the gravity of what had happened. Sakura was greatly overwhelmed and at a loss for words. She could have never imagined something so bizarre happening to her. It was unrealistic, but it was reality. Her heart ached for Neji and all the pain he must have endured and she hated herself for losing her memories for even a moment.
Her lips trembled as she looked him over once more and recognized just how much he'd aged. "I remember." She whispered, tears brimming in her eyes. "I remember everything."
Neji's eyes widened considerably before they returned to normal while softening and he gave her a happy smile. "That's good. I hope it will help with you learning about this black hole. If anyone can figure it out, you can."
Sakura was so proud of him and though she wished he would have been able to move on with his life instead of chasing after her, she was glad he had dedicated his life to learning things that would most certainly change life in the future. Her mind was suddenly so full of knowledge and she knew that this mystery would also be something she would look into.
"Thank you, Neji." Sakura told him, smiling through her tears as she watched his eyelids flutter.
"And this," With shaky hands, he removed his necklace and passed it to her. "One drop will summon the black hole, but it will only stay for so long. Usually between five and fifteen minutes."
Sakura nodded, taking in all he had to say.
"Everything else you will need to know is in that capsule." He forced his eyes to stay open long enough to gaze at her once more, knowing full-well that his life was weak. So weak. "I'm glad you remembered." He admitted before turning his eyes to the Uchiha standing a few feet away, he hadn't moved and Neji was certain he was still unhappy about his being there.
Sasuke's frown deepened as he met the older man's gaze head on. He felt nothing for the man, even knowing his life was fading away. While he didn't feel concern about his impending death, he neither felt the hatred he'd felt shortly before. Sasuke could understand how the man felt, and he could respect him enough to leave him to his last moments in peace.
"Thank you, for sparing me to have this moment… And for taking care of Sakura."
After a moment, the Uchiha gave him a nod. "She will always be taken care of." Sasuke wanted him to know that. For some reason, he felt the man deserved to feel reassured about Sakura's wellbeing, and her wellbeing would always be a concern of Sasuke. She was his wife and the mother of his unborn child. He would always protect her.
"I'm truly thankful for that, honestly." Neji gasped as a sharp pain nagged at his wound. The bleeding hadn't stopped, there was something odd about the injury but he didn't think about it anymore.
"Neji, you should return to the future, you could get help there." Sakura told him, even she knew if he stayed there, he would bleed out and die. She didn't want to be witness to his death, when he could be saved.
He shook his head weakly. "It wouldn't be wise of me to return, there's much to be researched before this time travel is exposed to the world. Too many questions would arise from me returning to my own time. Also, the trip alone would probably be too much for me. I wouldn't make it back alive."
Sakura frowned and looked away from him. She'd never expected her life would end up as it had, for her to actually have to sit here and watch a husband she'd forgotten all about die, while she could do nothing at all, it hurt. It hurt badly, but she would respect his thoughts and wishes.
"You know it wasn't easy, and I hated every minute of it but I truly believe that everything…" He stopped momentarily to cough and Sakura's eyes widened as she saw blood fall from his lips. "Everything happens for a reason. I'm positive now that I would have never made the breakthrough without that incident occurring."
Sakura nodded, she agreed. Neji had known she'd always been a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and it touched her that he believed it too. Her memories returning did nothing to change her current feelings, about Sasuke, her husband, and her life with him. However, she was able to respect Neji even more for everything and for that she was glad.
"We won't allow all of your hard work to be in vain. I think that in the next decade alone we could have it where time-traveling is risk-free, but it will have to be something carefully monitored and not just anyone will be trustworthy enough to use such a power."
"No, time is nothing to be played with. The knowledge should be used wisely and that's why only you and one other have the ability to find out any more than I know now. I trust you will find a way to keep things together."
"Of course, I will." Sakura told him, tears falling from her eyes once more as she watched his eyes waver a bit.
"Don't cry for me, Sakura. I promise…" He was cut off by a sharp intake of breath as an excruciating pain overcame him. "I am happy. All my goals were successful." He hadn't brought her home, but honestly he'd given up on that goal long ago. Seeing to her safety was of the most importance and being that he'd spent so long assuming her dead, he would not dread. He had too much to be thankful for. He smiled as he watched her through blurry, half lidded eyes. Nothing pleased him more than knowing she'd be the last thing he seen.
"I'm so sorry, Neji." Sakura whispered, but it was after he was no longer with them. She cried over his body, knowing well enough that his soul was long gone.
The last thing she remembered was losing herself to the emotion which overwhelmed her.
Sakura woke up in her bed with a migraine and searching hands. She wasn't used to her bed being empty, Sasuke was always there, almost always with his arms around her. It hurt to pry her eyes open with the way her head ached but she did so in search of him.
The room was empty, something she truly wasn't used to and as she sat up in bewilderment, it all came crashing back down to her. Her hand went to her chest as she thought back over all that had happened. It was painful, her memory returning but she was thankful it had. It would prove to help her in the future.
Getting out of bed rather shakily, Sakura went to the bathroom before she left the room. She was depressed that things had ended up as they had, for Neji. But she knew he wouldn't want her to feel that way. It was hard but she did all she could to not think about his death and all he must have gone through, but instead focus on how happy he had been in his last moments.
He'd accomplished so much, he was always so smart and good at his work. Sakura truly was proud of him but she hated he'd had to die. As she made it to the bottom of the stairway and went about wandering the castle in search of Sasuke, her thoughts went to him instead.
He'd been so angry and tense the night before and she was afraid of what he must be thinking. It didn't make her any less concerned being that he'd not been in the bed with her this morning. He could hate her now and she wouldn't blame him, because at that moment she hated herself.
She didn't realize she hadn't been paying attention to where she was going until she ran into someone. It was Hinata and she dropped the basket she'd been carrying on her way. It was full of clothes. Sakura realized she must have been cleaning and she hurriedly helped to gather the dropped clothing.
"Forgive me." She whispered.
"No my lady, forgive me." Hinata helped her to her feet and they stood together. The girl could tell how distraught Sakura really was, and her heart hurt for her.
"Have you seen Sasuke?" Sakura asked her hesitantly. She was worried that Sasuke was on a rampage, or worse.
Hinata nodded, a sad look on her face. "He and Naruto are outside. They're making preparations for the burial."
Sakura's eyes widened momentarily in her surprise but after a moment she smiled. "Are they?"
"They thought it would be what you'd want."
It made her happy to know that they would be kind enough to do that for Neji. He most certainly deserved it. Leaving Hinata behind, Sakura made her way to the backdoor and exited the castle. She walked outside and inhaled deeply as she found them. Both Naruto and Sasuke were digging out the earth, preparing a grave. She wanted to sob, to succumb to the depression but that was something she just couldn't do.
Still she stopped where she was, a good distance away from them. She wasn't sure she could see Neji again and she much rather keep her distance until the burial was complete.
Sasuke spotted her from across the distance and he left Naruto to work alone while he walked over to her. He was more concerned about her than she could have imagined, but he wished she would have stayed in and rested.
"Sakura," He called when he was a few feet away because he knew she wasn't seeing him. Her eyes were off in the distance and she looked as if she was seeing nothing at all.
Her lips trembled as she looked to him, her eyes reacquainting themselves with all of him. Sasuke Uchiha. A feudal lord who was now her husband. He was so different than people imagined him, even herself and it surprised her at how much she truly did love him. Nothing had ever felt more real to her.
"Sasuke…" She sobbed as she looked at him and with a knowing look on his face, the Uchiha pulled her against him and wrapped her in his arms. He despised her hurting at all, for even an instant.
Sakura held onto him tightly, he felt so good and reassuring. She knew everything had happened as it was intended and she was destined to be there with Sasuke and she was truly happy being there. She was happy about her pregnancy, her marriage to Sasuke and the knowledge she'd been given by Neji. She would study hard and find out any and everything that she could but most of all, she was changing the future, aside from adding time-travel to it. What was most important to her was saving this kingdom, because it was hers now just as it was Sasuke's.
Her tears disappeared into his cloak and after a while, her crying ceased altogether but still for the longest time, she and Sasuke held each other. He was worried that the return of her memories would change how she felt about her life now, but that didn't seem to be the case. He could understand her being upset about the death of the man if she'd had another life with him and he wouldn't dare to say anything to her about it.
Whatever her life was before she met him was none of his concern, all he knew was that Sakura was his light, she had been since she'd come into his life and she always would be. She'd changed everything for him and his kingdom. She'd given him a purpose other than protecting his kingdom until his inevitable death, she'd brought life to his kingdom and with her help, he would have children who would succeed him and also keep the kingdom alive.
Sakura had come to him because it was destiny.
"You're not angry…" Sakura whispered thoughtfully. She had feared how he would be feeling, after the mood he was in the night before. Before her memory had returned, she'd been sure he was going to end up killing the man before he even had the chance to die.
"No." Sasuke sighed, his eyes on the castle behind her, his arms having no intention of letting her go. "I understand." He really did have an understanding for her feelings, and even those of the man who was no longer with them. He realized how deeply that bastard had cared for Sakura and while he initially didn't like it, he was man enough to respect him for it.
"Thank you." She told him. She needed that understanding from him desperately, and was glad to know she meant enough to him for him to give it to her.
"Are you alright?" He asked her, pulling her back away from him a fraction to look her over.
She nodded and looked up to meet his eyes. "I am." As long as she had Sasuke by her side, she would be.
The four of them, along with Bolt held a memorial for Neji. He was buried beyond the gardens. Sasuke and Naruto even so much as cleaned a whole area around the sight, placed a marker of remembrance and made it a place Sakura could pay respects to him comfortably.
It was as if the world itself sat still for a moment, there wasn't a sound as they all stood over the grave. Even the wind itself ceased to exist. The world around them was lively and beautiful, more-so than it ever had been and Sakura could tell as she stood there, with all Neji had left behind in her hands that a calm was settling over the kingdom.
She wasn't sure how she knew, but she was confident that all the evil around them was gone and the curse the kingdom was subjected to was no more. Neji had given them a precious gift and Sakura would not let it go to waste. Their future had never looked brighter than it did then and as she looked down at the grave marker, she thanked him silently for all he'd done.
He may not have had the chance to realize it, but Neji had also changed history and she'd make sure he was remembered well for all his accomplishments. She glanced at her hands once more, first at the necklace with the vile attached to it and then at the capsule which held more knowledge than she could fathom. There was so much to learn… So many possibilities. She smiled to herself as she thought of where his findings could lead them and of how Neji was once again able to give her work. She knew it wouldn't be easy, but then he'd never been easy on her.
She would do just as he expected and make a way to go beyond his discoveries and unravel all the mysteries ahead of her. Life was not as she once imagined it. In her past life, she didn't believe in the supernatural, in curses or even in time-travel. She didn't believe in extraordinary powers and even though she'd learned that Sasuke Uchiha was supposedly a man with special abilities such as he had, she never imagined it could be true.
It amused her at how right they were about his strengths, though not to the full extent, and yet how wrong they were about who he was as a man. He was dark, he was intimidating and strong enough to slay armies but he was also kind and gentle, and he was thoughtful. He loved hard, she knew this first hand and maybe there was a time when he was nothing but ruthless, but he'd never seemed that way to Sakura.
She thought back to how easily she'd fallen for him, and how protective of her he'd always been. He enjoyed having people in his life and she knew he would be a great father. As she thought about all this the man on her mind came up next to her. Naruto and Hinata had long since taken Bolt back inside but Sakura hadn't noticed. She'd been far too deep in her thoughts.
Absentmindedly, she put both items in one hand and reached out once she had a free hand to take a hold of his. He watched her quietly as they stood there, hands clasped tightly together. He could tell she'd come to peace and he was glad of that. Sakura turned to face him, her eyes finding his quickly.
"Let's go inside," She suggested and Sasuke gave her a nod of agreement. They walked together towards the castle, both of them admiring the view. Sasuke thought the land was happy and almost as beautiful as his queen.
"Sakura," Sasuke stopped her, just as they made it through the gardens. "Thank you, for everything."
Sakura leaned into him, her arms went around his waist and she hugged him tightly. He was so warm and safe. She loved being with him and being loved by him. She adored the fact that he was so sincere in thanking her, when she hadn't really even done anything aside from being with him.
"I love you." She murmured as one of his arms wrapped around her as well. His free hand came up to her face and as his thumb caressed her cheek she gazed up at him. She could see the love in his eyes, it was deep and loyal.
He leaned down then and captured her lips in a kiss, the action speaking louder to her than any words ever could. Their love was real, impossibly so and together they had brought their kingdom out of the darkness and for as long as they lived, they would continue to keep their home alive.