When Kakashi heard knocking on his door, fairly late into the night, he was both confused and curious. Guy should still be out on an overnight mission, and if it was a message from the Hokage, an ANBU shinobi would be rapping on his bedroom window, not his door.
A second round of knocking began, and Kakashi got the sense whoever it was wouldn't be leaving until he answered, so he slipped on his vest, flicked on the living room light and pulled open the door.
Just to find the last person he expected standing in the hallway with his arms crossed and a sour expression adorning his face.
Kakashi blinked twice. "Sasuke? Wha—"
"I need your help."
It took the man a second to register that Sasuke, his most prideful and independent student, was asking for help. Yet once it did, concern pierced his heart like a jagged kunai.
"What's wrong?" The question spilled out faster than Kakashi could think, his eye already scanning over the boy in search of injuries and quickly catching sight of the glass pieces clinging to the Uchiha's clothes. Had the kid broken a window? Did he have a training accident?
Sasuke's expression soured further until he looked like he'd swallowed an entire gallon of lemon juice. "I'm fine," he grunted, annoyance simmering in his gaze.
Before Kakashi could point out the boy looked distinctively not fine, but rather his face was pale and his back was hunched like he was fighting to remain standing, Sasuke said, "I used a time-space jutsu to summon my future self to the past."
Kakashi's mouth shut and eyes widened.
Sasuke waited a moment, but when the jonin stayed silent, he added. "The problem is I don't know how to send my future self back, and he wants to return to his time as soon as possible so he—"
Kakashi raised his hand, and the preteen quieted. After a few seconds, Kakashi slowly asked, "You used a time-space jutsu to summon an older version of yourself, and now this older version of you wants to return to his time…in thefuture?"
The Uchiha nodded as if he hadn't just dropped a bomb on his teacher. Then he looked back over his shoulder, and Kakashi instinctively followed his gaze to the end of the hall right as a teenage boy rounded the corner.
The teen's dark, spiky hair and impassive expression rang a bell in Kakashi's head while his muted chakra signature and silent footsteps spoke of his years as a shinobi. However, it was the boy's unfathomable raven eyes, so alike his older brother's, which sent a jolt of realization through Kakashi.
He didn't want to believe it, wanted to just slam the door close and pretend this was all a strange dream, but soon enough Kakashi had two Uchiha standing before him. One, his genin student, and the other an experienced ninja who was sizing up Kakashi like he was a potential threat, and if that didn't scream wrong, the fact the teen's hand was noticeably resting by his sword handle did.
It took all of Kakashi's strength to swallow down his shock and loosen his stance into something casual while he regarded the two. "I, uh, think we should talk about this inside." He pushed the door open wider and stepped back.
Immediately the teenager strode in, making his younger self abort his own motion to enter before he followed the teen inside.
Kakashi closed the door behind them, trying his hardest to focus on anything but the older Uchiha as he led the pair over to his living room couch. He gestured for them to sit, and Sasuke did, but the older boy hesitated before planting himself next to the preteen, swiftly angling his larger body to cover his younger self from Kakashi's direct line of vision in a manner he probably thought was inconspicuous, and might have been if Kakashi hadn't been watching him so closely.
The jonin moved to the adjacent wall, leaning back on it and crossing his arms. Once again he tried not to focus on the teen, but against his will his gaze fell on the Uchiha.
The teen stared back, eyes narrowing, and the jonin noticed the Uchiha's feet shifting towards the door like he wanted to be able to bolt at any given moment. Kakashi might have labeled this and the boy's general wariness as him merely being out of sorts after being flung back years into the past, but considering the teen's lack of a Konoha headband, a dreadful explanation was forming in the jonin's mind. At least until Kakashi realized the older Uchiha didn't seem nervous like a man hiding something so much as wary of Kakashi.
Sasuke didn't notice his older self glaring at his teacher while he recounted how he'd obtained an old Uchiha scroll in the Land of Waves, and initiated the time-space jutsu at dusk per the scroll's instructions. It made sense considering twilight was when day transitioned into night, therefore the boundaries of time were less stable then. Still, Kakashi was amazed his student had activated what sounded like a high-ranking jutsu and that neither Uchiha was harmed in the process.
Sasuke concluded his summary, and Kakashi was mildly disappointed he couldn't examine the scroll for himself, but apparently it couldn't be read unless the reader had two sharingan eyes. That was probably why it had remained in the Waves shop for so long, as who wanted a scroll they could never hope to read?
The preteen turned to his older self who finally stopped glaring at Kakashi while he started explaining his experience. "The last thing I remember is my sharingan turning on without me calling on it. Then one of my eye's abilities activated, which covered my body in a powerful armor."
Kakashi pondered if that was why Sasuke's future self hadn't been harmed by the time travel. If the armor he spoke of derived from the sharingan and was needed to survive the time-space jutsu, no wonder only those of the Uchiha clan could use that scroll.
"I attempted to turn my sharingan off, but passed out before I could." The teen showed no embarrassment over his falling unconscious, and the teacher inside Kakashi was proud his student had became so skilled at masking his emotions while the shinobi inside him grew uneasy. Because even if this boy was an older version of his student, Kakashi didn't actually know him.
And perhaps the teenager didn't really know Kakashi anymore if his current behavior meant anything.
"When I woke up, my body was sore, but the pain passed quickly." The teenager raised his head. "You know the rest."
The two Uchiha then regarded Kakashi in a mildly disturbing manner considering both of their heads were tilted at exactly the same angle, yet the jonin ignored this as he rubbed his temples and sighed. "Well, I don't even know where to begin."
Sasuke's face wrinkled with displeasure. "You can't help us reverse the seal?"
Kakashi lowered his hand, expression hardening. "No." Both Uchiha tensed at his harsh tone. "I meant I don't know what to address first. The fact you used a high-level jutsu that could have killed you, or the fact you came to see me when you should be at home sleeping off a serious case of chakra exhaustion."
Sasuke's shock quickly morphed into anger and he scowled. "I feel fine," he crossed his arms, "And I wasn't being reckless. I double-checked the seals and made sure my chakra reserves were full befo—"
Kakashi shoved off the wall, and ignoring how the teen grabbed his sword handle at the motion, went to stand over the preteen. "That's not the point, Sasuke." The boy raised his chin defiantly, and Kakashi resisted the urge to shout. "You still used a high-level jutsu without telling anyone what you were planning. If it had backfired—"
"What does it matter?" Sasuke erupted, hand slicing through the air. "Clearly I knew what I was doing." He gestured at his future self as if the older boy was proof of his competence.
Only for the teen to scoff. "No, I don't think you did." Kakashi froze, not expecting Sasuke's future self to agree with him, and neither did Sasuke based on the preteen's slack-jaw expression. "If you did, it wouldn't have taken me all these years to realize the scroll had worked."
Kakashi's brow furrowed, anger draining away. "You didn't know the scroll worked?"
"No, not until now." The teen's expression turned contemplative. "I remember buying the scroll just like my younger self said, but when I poured chakra into it, nothing seemed to happen, my future self never appeared, and I assumed I did something incorrectly. Yet now I think the scroll did activate, but couldn't summon me until today because I was missing something."
He regarded Sasuke. "The scroll has an inscription about Eyes turned to the future joining Eyes turned to the past?" The preteen nodded. "Eyes is a reference to the sharingan, meaning the scroll is talking about two pairs of sharingan joining together and combining, which is what my eyes are now, a combination." He reached up to touch the skin around his black orbs. "That's why the scroll summoned me today, because today is when I started using my new sharingan."
Kakashi struggled to digest this information, but felt a little better about it when he saw Sasuke appeared just as confused. "You mean your mangek—"
"No," the teen shook his head, "A form higher than that."
Sasuke gaped. "There's another form?"
The teenager nodded, but before his younger self could ask, said, "Later." He side-eyed Kakashi. "It's an Uchiha clan secret, not information outsiders should know."
Kakashi raised his hands, waving him down. "You don't have to explain it to me. It doesn't sound like knowing would help me reverse the seal anyway."
Sasuke frowned at him. "So you can't help us?"
Kakashi scratched the back of his neck. "Look, seals aren't my specialty, but I've picked up a few tricks from a couple of seal masters I used to know. If you bring a copy of the scroll's instructions to training tomorrow I can look it over, and depending on how complex the seal is, I might be able to reverse it."
Sasuke looked reassured, but his older self frowned. "You're not sure you can send me back?"
Kakashi picked up on the suspicion lacing the teen's voice, and what exactly had Kakashi done—or will do to warrant such distrust? It wasn't like he would ever betray a comrade unless... His gray eye drifted up to the teen's bare forehead, but Kakashi swiftly put an end to such thoughts, refusing to jump to conclusions.
"No," the jonin admitted. "I can't promise I'll be able to reverse it." He mulled it over. "Though there's someone I could contact who may—"
"Don't bother." The older boy stood, expression frigid. "I know someone familiar with special Uchiha ninjutsu and fūinjutsu. I'll contact them, and see if they can help."
Kakashi's brow rose. "Who—"
"They're on an undercover mission," the teen snapped, a snarl in his voice. "Telling you their name would compromise them."
Kakashi wanted to know when and how the teenager met an undercover Konoha-nin, but saw an opportunity to answer a more important question. "Is that why you're not wearing your headband?" Sasuke swiveled towards his older self, having not noticed the teen's bare forehead. "You're undercover?" Kakashi forced his tone to remain light, though his heart was thumping fast in his chest.
The teen stared back at him, expressionless, but after a second said, "Konoha is at war." Kakashi's eyes widened, lips parting beneath his mask because he hadn't expected that. "It's the Fourth Shinobi War, and I've infiltrated one of the enemy's bases. Showing any sign of loyalty to Konoha would be a fast way to get me killed." He wasn't lying, all of it was true to an extent.
The jonin sensed the teen wasn't telling him everything. However, that didn't necessarily mean he was lying. After all, Sasuke had a tendency to spare only the minimum amount of details to explain himself, and it appeared this was still a trait of his.
"Alright," Kakashi stuffed his hands in his pockets, inclining his head. "All the more reason to get you back to your time as soon as possible. Go ahead and contact your ally while you," he looked at the preteen, "Get me a copy of that scroll for tomorrow."
The shorter boy nodded, and the duo began to leave when Kakashi said, "Also Sasuke—" Both boys turned to him and the jonin blinked. "I meant him," he pointed to the younger, and Sasuke came back while the teen continued to the door.
"Make sure you eat something before you go to bed, and get plenty of rest tonight." The preteen scowled, but Kakashi's face grew stern. "I mean it, Sasuke. You're severely chakra exhausted, so unless you want to pass out in front of everyone tomorrow, I suggest you sleep in and show up late for practice."
Sasuke rolled his eyes, yet clearly loathed the idea of appearing weak in front of his teammates, so huffed. "Okay." He tried to leave, but Kakashi caught his shoulder. "What is it now?" He snapped, spinning back.
The jonin didn't immediately reply while he stretched out his chakra and sensed the older Uchiha lingering outside his apartment. Even still, he lowered his voice as he said, "If you ever feel uncomfortable around your future self, you can come to me."
Sasuke jolted, taken aback. "Why would I feel uncomfortable?" He shrugged towards the doorway. "He's me."
Kakashi smiled with his eye, but his voice was tight as he said, "Just remember I'm here if you need me." He decided not to explain, seeing his student hadn't picked up on how off the teen was acting.
Sasuke gave him a strange look, but eventually nodded, and Kakashi let him go, watching as he joined his older self in the hall and marveling at the sight of the two uchiwa on their backs while he shut the door.
For a moment, Kakashi just stood there, an odd sense of dread holding him in place, and it wasn't long before he realized why.
The entirety of his interaction with Sasuke's older self bothered him because the teen hadn't been acting merely distrustful of Kakashi, but there had been times where it seemed like the Uchiha was trying to protect his younger self from him, and this made Kakashi's stomach churn. For how badly could he have messed up to make his own student fear him?
Twelve-year old Sasuke woke up in his bed the next morning, dazed and hungry.
He pushed himself up, fighting through the fog in his brain, and froze upon seeing a large piece of cardboard taped over half his balcony door. Soon though he recalled his older self mentioning he would clean up while Sasuke got some sleep, and glancing around the floor, the preteen saw all the broken glass had indeed been swept away. However, he paused when he spotted his future self lying in a blue futon by the door, eyes shut and chest rising and falling slowly.
Sasuke hadn't expected the teenager to sleep in the same room as him, but quickly realized the older Uchiha probably didn't have a choice, as he couldn't reach the guest room on the other side of the house without their invisible bond dragging him back.
The preteen eyed the other boy for a moment, and determining he really was asleep, pulled down his covers and slipped out of bed. His feet made no sound as he neared the older boy, and he stopped a good foot away before crouching over him.
The teen's hair was a little longer than his, spikier too—though that might have been just bedhead. Also, the dark strands weren't parted into side bangs anymore, but were left to hang freely over his forehead. It kinda reminded Sasuke of his hairstyle as a child. However, the rest of the teen's body was nearly unrecognizable.
His face was slimmer, jawline more pronounced, shoulders broader and body taller. Even his hands were bigger. His future self looked so...so adult, and it was startling to see just how much more growing awaited him.
"I would ask what you're doing."
Sasuke flinched, head snapping up to see the teen's eyes were open and mild annoyance shone through his expression.
"But I already have a good idea."
Sasuke sprang into a stand, stepping back with his cheeks burning as he looked away. He nearly apologized, but realized he'd technically be apologizing to himself and the weirdness of it made him hesitate.
He was still debating what to say, if anything, when his stomach made the decision for him by growling loudly. If Sasuke's face wasn't red before, it certainly was now. Yet as he went to speak, a hand entered his vision.
Sasuke blinked at the brown pills in the teen's palm, looking up at his future self's blank features in confusion. "What are they?" He accepted the pills, eyeing the bits of red he could see among the dark brown texture—were those chili peppers?
"Food pills," his older self said. "They'll replenish your chakra faster than a regular meal." Recognition sparked in Sasuke's eyes since he'd heard of such pills, although this was his first time seeing them up close. "Eat and get dressed quickly, you're already late for practice."
Sasuke stiffened, turning towards the clock on his nightstand and seeing it was two hours past the time he was supposed to meet his team. It seemed his chakra exhaustion had made him sleep through his alarm.
"And you're going to be even later." Sasuke looked back at him. "I need to buy something."
Without waiting for a response, the teen left the room, presumably to get ready himself. The twelve-year old was slightly miffed by the lack of explanation until he realized he did this to people all the time. Kakashi had even pointed out his habit of not communicating last night, lecturing Sasuke for not telling anyone he was going to use the Uchiha scroll.
A little bothered by how Kakashi might have had a point, Sasuke distracted himself by throwing back one of the food pills. The round pellet crunched under his molars, near tasteless save for a hint of spice from the peppers. He didn't mind the blandness, having always preferred lighter flavors, so easily downed the other two pills while he went to the bathroom in the hall.
He came back out wearing his typical high-collar blue shirt and found his older self waiting for him by the staircase. The teen was dressed in the same clothes as yesterday, except he'd removed that purple rope and the cloth it held up.
Sasuke was glad because the rope thing looked ridiculous. His older self had mentioned his clothes were a part of his disguise while infiltrating the enemy's base during the Shinobi War, but still Sasuke was grateful he wouldn't have to see his older self wearing something so weird.
The teen moved down the stairs without a word and Sasuke followed, wanting to ask where exactly they were going, as well as many other things, but knowing a barrage of questions would only annoy his older self, the preteen settled on the subject that bothered him most.
"Why won't you train me?"
His future self didn't stop while they left the Uchiha district and entered Konoha's main road, but did glance over his shoulder as he said, "I already told you." His eyes narrowed. "There are more important things I could be doing."
Sasuke scowled, irritated by the non-answer. "What's more important?" He demanded. "What could possibly be more important than teaching me how to kill Itachi?"
His voice echoed throughout the street, which would have been embarrassing if the road wasn't empty, as most kids were at school while their parents were working. Though Sasuke noticed a couple of chunin running over the store rooftops, one of them nearly crashing into their teammate after spotting Sasuke and his older self. It was then the boy realized they must be an odd sight considering their similar features and the implications that came with the red and white fans on their backs.
It was common knowledge Sasuke was the last of his clan, so why hadn't the teenager bothered disguising himself to avoid attention? Just what was up with his older self making so many strange decisions?
"I wanted to see someone."
Sasuke almost tripped, surprised his future self was actually answering, but after a minute realized he wasn't going to elaborate. Seriously, Sasuke had no idea talking to himself was this hard.
Still, he refused to let his question go unanswered, so employed a new tactic. "You wouldn't have summoned that hawk unless you were traveling somewhere far." Sasuke smirked when his older self tensed. "So this person must live outside of Konoha." His brow drew together. "But I don't really know anyone outside of the Village except Nekobaa and her granddaughter, so who could..." Sasuke stopped, eyes widening. "Unless you were going after Itach—"
The teen whipped back, locking Sasuke in place with the depth of fury burning in his raven orbs. "Yes. I was going after Itachi," he gritted out, "But I can't do that anymore thanks to you."
It took Sasuke a second to recover from his shock, yet once he did, he glared. "It's not my fault. If you had just explained we could have—"
"Could have what?" The teen leaned into his face, expression of anger more passionate than any other emotion Sasuke had seen on him up until now. "We could have found Itachi together?" He scoffed, leaning back. "As if you'd last a minute against him." Sasuke tried to protest, but his older self sneered. "You know I'm right."
The preteen flinched while his future self loomed over him. "You've known it ever since you fought Zabuza, that there's so many ninja stronger than you, who could kill you so easily," he hissed, staring down Sasuke as if he were a worm.
And the preteen couldn't refute him because the older boy was right. The Waves mission had been a brutal wake-up call that despite how much time and effort he put into training over the years, Sasuke still wasn't strong enough. He didn't have the power to beat Zabuza on his own, protect himself from Haku, or kill that man.
"You are not worth killing…foolish otouto."
Sasuke's breathing quickened, chest heaving and lungs burning as the memory of Itachi's words pierced his brain. He stared hard at the ground, struggling to reorient himself in the present, and when he looked back up the teenager was no longer sneering, but frowning. Instantly Sasuke realized his future self knew exactly what Sasuke had been thinking about, and it was mortifying yet kind of nice having someone who understood.
The teen stepped back, giving him some space. "Just wait here, the store isn't far."
The teen strode ahead, turning right into a wooden shop on the street corner, one Sasuke vaguely recognized, and eager to move on from his emotional outburst he squinted at the store sign to figure out why.
Just for his jaw to fall open because his future self was buying dango!?
Not only was this a drastic change from Sasuke's typical palate, but Sasuke remembered Itachi had a sweet-tooth. That was why he'd avoided most candy stores over the years, not wanting any reminders. Clearly though, his older self was over such things, which must mean the memories no longer bothered him.
Sasuke perked up. He'd always hoped defeating Itachi would make all the painful memories go away. Now seeing his future self proved this was true… Except his future self didn't seem very happy.
The Uchiha frowned, but couldn't ponder it further as his older self exited the dango shop, a light green bag in his hand while he approached, saying, "Let's go."
Sasuke cocked his head. "Why did you buy dango?"
The teen eyed him irritatedly. "I don't remember being so pestering at this age."
Sasuke recoiled like he'd been struck, having been basically called annoying by himself, while the teen walked around him and headed towards the training grounds. Sasuke scowled after him, feeling the childish urge to simply stand there until the older boy was dragged back by their invisible connection. However, that would only be proving him right, so Sasuke hurried and caught up with him.
After a few minutes they arrived on a grassy field edged by a small forest. His older self fell back, likely not remembering where exactly he met with his team on this particular day, so Sasuke took the lead as they delved into the woods.
The teen didn't make a sound while they traversed the dirt path, and Sasuke resisted checking if he was still there, though it was nice knowing in a few years he would have stealth skills to rival Kakashi's.
"What if he's too tired to cook?" Sakura's voice interrupted his thoughts, resounding from the forest clearing ahead, although Sasuke couldn't see her past the thicket. "He could go hungry!"
"Yeah, yeah!" Naruto's high-pitched voice joined in. "We have to make sure Sasuke is okay!"
Kakashi's hands were raised in a placating manner above his two genin students when Sasuke entered the clearing, and neither one noticed as he approached and stopped behind them.
The jonin's gray eye flicked up to meet the Uchiha's gaze before he lowered his hands and said, "I don't think that will be necessary. He—"
"But shouldn't we make sure he's alright?" Sakura asked, pink dusting over her cheeks as she twirled the end of her hair nervously. "I mean, if he's too exhausted to move then I could feed him—"
"And I could carry him everywhere!" Naruto leapt into the jonin's personal space, making Kakashi lean back. "Then he'll be the one who owes me big time!" The blond's eyes sparkled while he pictured his rival lying pathetically in bed and finally admitting Naruto was the superior ninja.
Only for the fantasy to fall apart when Sasuke scoffed. "Like I would ever need your help, dobe."
Naruto yelped and Sakura shrieked, both spinning around to see the subject of their conversation was glaring at them.
"A-ah, Sasuke-kun!" Sakura's face was as red as her dress. "You're okay!"
"Hey!" Naruto stomped up to him, making Sasuke glower as he waved his finger in his face. "What are you doing sneaking up on us like that!?"
Sasuke crossed his arms. "I wasn't trying to sneak up on you." He smiled smugly. "You were just too busy running your mouth to notice me."
Rage darkened Naruto's face and he looked ready to retort when suddenly his eyes grew big, mouth falling open and arm going limp while Sakura appeared similarly stunned behind him.
The Uchiha was confused until he remembered who was with him, and he turned back to see his older self standing partially in the shade of trees before fully stepping into the sunlit clearing.
Sasuke frowned at the expression on the teen's face, the older Uchiha's lips pressing into a thin line and eyes kindling with an emotion Sasuke couldn't identify. Anger, pain, shock, and uncertainty filtered across his features so fast Sasuke was probably the only one who saw them before his older self schooled his expression.
"He..." Naruto choked, grabbing at his hair. "HE'S REAL!" He swiveled towards Kakashi. "I thought you were making him up!"
Sakura continued gawking, green eyes locked on the older Uchiha while her skin lost two shades of color. Sasuke was mildly concerned she might faint, especially since she didn't seem to be breathing, but suddenly the kunoichi twisted around and punched Naruto in the jaw, sending him flying back into a tree.
"Baka!" Sakura shook her fist at Naruto as he slid down the bark with a groan. "You made me think Kakashi-sensei was making it up when he said Sasuke got chakra exhaustion from summoning his future self!" She grabbed the blond by the collar, ready to throttle him some more until the teen walked past her, making her look up.
"Here's a copy of the scroll." The older boy handed a couple of papers to the jonin, and Sasuke realized he had forgotten to make a copy for his teacher.
"This..." Kakashi scanned over the seal, eye widening. "Is going to require some serious studying." He slumped, muttering about all the library trips he was going to have to make.
The teen payed him no mind as he tucked the dango bag under his arm, bit his thumb, and rushed through five hand seals before pressing his palm on the ground. In a poof of smoke the same hawk summon from yesterday appeared with a gray message bag now strapped to its back.
Sakura released Naruto in her shock, but the blond hardly noticed as he too gaped at the bird. "W-what is that!?" Naruto screeched while the teen slipped the dango into the message bag, then stood back as the bird batted its wings before shooting up into the sky.
They all watched the summon fly over the treetops, quickly fading into the distance, and Sasuke figured his older self was using the hawk to send a message to the Uchiha ninjutsu expert he'd mentioned. Though why did he also send dango?
"Well," Kakashi gathered their attention. "Now that Sasuke is here we can finish up—"
"Wait!" Naruto waved wildly at the teen who was still staring after the hawk. "Shouldn't we talk about this!?"
Kakashi sighed as he tucked the scroll copy in his vest. "There's not much to discuss beyond what I already told you." He gestured at the teen. "He's Sasuke from the future, and he might be here a while. That's all you really need to know."
"But..." Naruto stared at the older Uchiha, examining him up and down suspiciously while the teen stared back without emotion. "He can't be Sasuke's future self! He looks—" Naruto struggled to think of adjectives besides "cool" and "tough" because there was no way he was complimenting any version of his rival!
"Too tall!" Naruto decided, crossing his arms in a huff.
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "That's what happens when people grow—"
"Right, Sakura?" The blond turned to the kunoichi for support. "This guy looks too tall to be Sasuke's future self!"
"Oh," the girl started. "He looks..." She eyed the teenager, red slowly creeping across her face. "L-looks..."
Sasuke grimaced at the adoring expression that came over her, recognizing it was the same one she always gave him while the teen sent him a look like he was blaming Sasuke for her antics.
"Regardless of what you think, Naruto." Kakashi cut in, saving Sakura from a fangirl meltdown. "We need to finish up training."
Naruto humphed, clearly upset he was being dismissed, and Kakashi turned back to Sasuke. "Naruto and Sakura have already sparred against each other, so if you're feeling up to it, you can spar with either one."
Sasuke nodded and Naruto's hand shot up. "Ooh, ooh, Kaka-sensei! Can I spar with Uchiha-san?"
Sasuke blinked, for a second thinking Naruto was talking about him until Kakashi explained. "I told them to call your future self that to avoid confusion." He looked to the teen. "Hope you don't mind."
"Hn." The older boy didn't seem to care either way, though there was a thoughtful look on his face as he regarded Naruto.
"And no," Kakashi told the blond, "You can't spar with him. This is teamwork training, and technically Uchiha-san isn't a part of this team."
Naruto deflated, but suddenly the teen walked over to him. The boy was surprised, yet quickly raised his fists like he was expecting a fight, only for the teenager to bend over and whisper something in his ear.
Naruto dropped his hands, appearing stunned, though soon a wide grin split his face and he nodded. "Uh-huh, uh-huh!" He agreed until the older boy straightened up and moved back towards Sasuke.
"Wow, thanks, Uchiha-san!" Naruto beamed as the teen folded his arms and leaned back against a tree.
Sasuke eyed his other self, baffled, but the teen ignored him while Naruto raised his fist at the younger Uchiha. "Let's spar, teme! I bet I can beat you this time!"
Sasuke narrowed his eyes at his future self, yet the teen gazed back impassively, and it was kind of disturbing how Sasuke couldn't read a face so similar to his own.
"Do you want to spar against Naruto?" Kakashi asked while Sakura started preemptively cheering Sasuke on, telling him to beat Naruto up, much to the blond's dismay.
Sasuke glanced at his older self once more, but soon nodded. "Sure." He smirked. "It's not like the dobe can beat me."
Naruto bared his teeth, grinning challengingly. "Yes, I can, believe it!"
"Okay," Kakashi backed out of the clearing, as did Sakura, though the teen didn't move. "The same rules as usual, you can use ninjutsu, genjutsu, taijutsu, and any tools you have. Match ends when you either forfeit or get pinned."
Naruto and Sasuke moved to opposite sides of the clearing, though the Uchiha paused when he noticed the corner of his older self's lips angling up as he passed him. However, he shook it off when Kakashi announced. "Start...now."
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Naruto predictably began, holding up the seal while three of his clones burst into existence. However, Sasuke was surprised when the clones pulled out smoke bombs instead of rushing him and tossed them down.
The Uchiha raised his arms in preparation to defend himself, but didn't do more as he waited to see what the idiot was planning while smoke flooded Naruto's side of the clearing, concealing the blond from sight.
It was looking like this match might be interesting until Naruto ran out of the smoke with a battle cry and launched himself at him.
Sasuke easily side-stepped the Uzumaki and chopped him in the back, sending him sprawling to the floor where he popped. Another two Narutos ran out of the thinning cloud of smoke, hands raised to strike, but Sasuke merely caught the first Naruto's fist and used it to toss him over his back. He heard the clone pop behind him while he roundhouse kicked the third clone in the face, instantly destroying him.
The Uchiha then looked up to see all the smoke had dissipated, leaving Naruto standing in the clearing with a smoke bomb in each hand. Though Sasuke was shocked when Naruto launched both bombs at him before sprinting towards him. Even Sakura seemed confused, her voice dying off mid-cheer, but Sasuke recovered quickly and rapidly formed six hand signs.
"Katon: Great Fireball Justu!"
Sasuke spat a stream of fire up towards the smoke bombs, not wanting to be blinded by them.
Only for the bombs to pop before the scarlet flames could touch them, and in a puff of smoke, reveal themselves to be henged Naruto clones.
Sasuke was too stunned to move as one of the Narutos latched onto his his fellow clone and flung him at Sasuke before taking the full brunt of Sasuke's flames.
The Uchiha then realized what was happening and ended the jutsu, twisting away. Yet the Naruto clone still crashed into his shoulder, knocking him to the ground so hard he destroyed himself in the process.
Sasuke got a face full of dirt before he lurched up on his knees and stilled, feeling the sharp metal of a kunai on the back of his neck. He looked over his shoulder to see the real Naruto smiling from ear to ear. "Got ya!"
The Uchiha's jaw clenched, teeth grinding hard while Kakashi came over and Naruto lowered the kunai, saying, "Looks like Naruto won."
The blond whooped. "Yes!" He turned to Sakura who was still standing in the shade outside the clearing, frozen in shock. "Did ya see that? Did ya see that, Sakura-chan? I won!"
Sasuke couldn't hear anything after that, red saturating his vision. His heart throbbed within his chest, racing faster than it had during the match because he'd lost. He lost to the deadlast.
A hand tried to help him up, yet Sasuke slapped it away with a snarl, standing with clenched fists and dirt staining his hands and knees. The blond idiot grinned at him, a taunt spilling from his lips, but Sasuke couldn't hear anything except the blood rushing to his head. He'd lost. Sasuke had lost again, and it felt like all he ever did was lose these days. Against Naruto, against Haku, he just couldn't stop losing.
"Though I suspect you didn't think of that plan on your own." Kakashi side-eyed his older self and Sasuke swiveled towards him, noting the cruel amusement curling the teen's lips.
"You..." Sasuke hissed, marching up to the teen who quickly masked his expression. "You helped Naruto...why?" His voice shook, rage boiling in the back of his throat.
"Because," the teen smirked, leaning down, "You never gave me a reason not to punch you."
It took Sasuke a second to figure out what the teen was referencing, but once he did, the haze of anger thickened around him until he was choking on it.
Then with a guttural scream, Sasuke lunged at the teen.
The teenage Uchiha didn't expect seeing Kakashi again would hit him so hard. He didn't anticipate how loud it would make his last memory of the jonin.
"Don't be consumed by your revenge!"
Acidic giggles spouted out of Sasuke's mouth, every blink like running a white-hot needle through his mangekyō sharingan eyes while the blurry image of his ex-sensei ran at him across the water with the intent to kill.
"I'm itching to kill you, Kakashi!"
Sasuke found himself watching Kakashi in his apartment, waiting for the jonin to stop pretending he cared. It had to be an act, because if Kakashi ever really cared then why did he try to kill Sasuke? Why did he choose the Village over him? It had to be a lie, Kakashi was just another liar like everyone else in this cursed Leaf Village.
Kakashi never cared, like Sakura never loved him and Naruto had never been anything more than an obstacle in the way of his revenge.
Still, it made Sasuke's chest ache to see his former teammates standing in the clearing.
They looked young. Even Sakura, the oldest of them at thirteen, looked like a child playing dress-up in ninja gear, and Naruto with his sparkling blue eyes and that ridiculous orange jumpsuit looked so small beneath his Konoha headband.
Sasuke didn't remember Team 7 looking like this. Didn't remember that Sakura's eyes used to shine like jade caught in the sunlight whenever she saw him—instead of filling with tears, face twisted with agony.
Or that Naruto used to be so desperately eager to cling to anyone who would so much as glance at him—instead of standing confidently in Sasuke's path, matching his lightning with a windstorm.
Then there was Sasuke's younger self, an angry boy acting like he was an adult when it was so obvious he had no idea what it truly meant to be grown. Sasuke hated them, hated all of them for acting so young and innocent. Though he hated his younger self most.
How dare the Uchiha child look at him with those wide, haunted eyes as the memory of that night screeched through his brain after the teen unintentionally reminded him of it.
Sasuke had wanted to scream then that Itachi was innocent, it was the Village's fault their family was gone, and Nii-san loved him. Yet the teenager knew his younger self would never believe him if he just told him the truth. His hatred was too deeply-rooted, and the younger boy would only believe Itachi had been manipulated into killing their clan if Sasuke showed him undeniable proof.
And that was exactly what Sasuke was going to do.
Though that would have to wait since Sasuke's younger self was currently throwing a fit and lunging at him like some feral animal.
The teen didn't bother moving, merely watching as Kakashi caught the preteen Uchiha by the collar and lugged him back.
"Get off of me!" The boy screamed without looking at the jonin, his sharingan eyes boring into his older self.
"Calm down." Kakashi ordered sternly. "Uchiha-san didn't do anything wrong, and neither did Naruto." Sasuke wrenched out of his hold, and Kakashi let him, though he eyed the preteen warily. "Both of you were free to use whatever resources you had, including other people, and that's all Naruto did."
"Yeah, don't be such a sore lose—"
Kakashi sent Naruto a sharp look and the blond instantly quieted while the younger Uchiha clenched his hands, body trembling with rage. They were all watching him, waiting for him to lose control again, when suddenly he stilled. After a moment, the preteen exhaled harshly, hands unclenching slowly.
Another beat passed before the dark-haired boy raised his head to reveal ordinary ebony eyes. "Whatever," he scoffed. Then he stomped out of the clearing, ignoring Sakura and Naruto's calls to return. Sasuke told himself he didn't care what they had to say since they were the reason he was so weak, the two always holding him back.
"Running away again?"
"Run, run, and cling to your pitiful life."
The preteen blinked away the memory, turning towards the taller Uchiha behind him on the forest path and scowling. "What's your problem?" he snapped.
"My problem?" The older teen cocked his head, eyes alight with something dangerous. "Hm, I'm not sure, but it probably has something to do with being dragged back in time against my will." He glared.
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "What do you want? An apology?"
"A seal sending me back to my time would be preferred." The teen deadpanned and Sasuke shook his head, unwilling to respond to the jibe.
Mercifully his older self didn't speak again as they left the training field and entered the Village's main road. Sasuke was content to ignore his future self until they got home, but when he noticed the teen falling behind, he turned to him.
The older Uchiha was glancing around his surroundings with a small frown on his face, eyes tracking up buildings and lingering on the occasional housewife or shopkeeper sweeping up the front of their property.
Sasuke spoke without thinking. "You haven't seen the Village for a while...have you?"
The twelve-year old anticipated another snarky remark, but the teen simply nodded. "No, not for some time."
There was a solemness to his voice while he spoke, but when Sasuke started to ask just how long he'd been on that infiltration assignment, his older self stiffened and spun back. He grabbed Sasuke by the elbow faster than he could see and pulled him behind him, making the preteen stagger.
"Well, it appears the rumors had some truth to them after all."
The youngest Uchiha blinked, recognizing the speaker's voice, and looked around his future self to see the Hokage standing in the empty street, smiling genially, though his eyes were sharp as they analyzed the older Uchiha.
"Ever since last night I've had shinobi bursting into my office claiming everything from Uchiha Itachi had returned to the Village," the teen's grip tightened on Sasuke's arm, making him wince, "To Uchiha Sasuke found a secret twin in the Land of Waves and brought him back to Konoha."
The old man chuckled briefly. "But neither of those are quite true, hm, Sasuke?" He stared directly at the teenager, leaving no doubt to who he was addressing.
And Sasuke watched a terse smile spread over the teen's face, and knew something was wrong before the teen quietly asked, "You want to talk about truth, Sarutobi?"
The Third Hokage narrowed his eyes at the disrespectful address and Sasuke balked at it, but suddenly the teen was letting him go while the scent of ozone and the sound of a thousand chittering birds filled the air as white-blue lightning sparked to life in his future self's hand.
Sasuke gawked while the teen hissed. "Then let's talk," his eyes bled into his eternal mangekyō sharingan and the Hokage's eyes widened, "About what really happened that night."
I didn't want to end this on a cliff-hanger, but I can't write anymore lol
Thanks for all the support and reviews! I hope this chapter was worth the wait :)
Next time: Older!Sasuke confronts the Hokage while Younger!Sasuke learns a startling truth and deals with the ramifications...