Author's notes: My apologies for being late again, been very busy over the last few days. I have been hit with writer's block, so I'll have to re-edit two chapters that I have been able to do, but I have been able to at least get my story ideas down.


Paradox
06. The Truth

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Being trapped within Tsukuyomi was not what he had expected. Okay, maybe it was. Of course his brother would trap him in this terrible genjutsu again. However, instead of being tied up and watching his family die over and over, this time he was free. It was in the same surroundings as before, just in shades of blood and ebony. He could not summon his own sharingan to dispel the jutsu, and his brother was in front of him. Sasuke felt rather small, but instead gave his brother a feral look.

"It is best that we discuss this within this space," Itachi said, "It will be quicker, and you will have more time to understand everything."

He gestured behind him, and that particular area showed flashes of what Sasuke assumed were Itachi's memories. Still, Tsukuyomi could be manipulated to show false memories, so Sasuke did not feel like believing his older brother, considering how he had lied numerous times. Some memories were weird though, considering some seemed to not even be from Itachi himself…

"Before we get into anything, I want one thing to be clear. Konoha is my home, and I did everything I could to protect it, as well as you. I planned as well as I could, but… clearly what I had planned did not go how I wanted. You found out about what had occurred, but from the lips of someone who wanted to use you against the world," Itachi said slowly, as if picking and choosing his words, "Obito Uchiha. He was assumed dead many years ago, even before you were born. He was kept alive by Senju cells with Madara Uchiha's help."

'Madara… I've heard that name before,' Sasuke thought to himself frowning at the name he could not fully remember. He was someone important to the Uchiha clan – oh, he was the one who formed the Hidden Leaf with the first Hokage. Madara Uchiha was a person who was known throughout the Uchiha clan as being the most powerful member that had ever existed. He remembered hearing his father say that Itachi's strengths could make way to him becoming as powerful as Madara once was. In the end, Madara had attacked the Hidden Leaf, but… Sasuke supposed that was where there may have been some distrust with the Uchiha, considering other Uchiha were apparently involved. But it happened ages ago, so surely no one was still thinking the same thing.

"Obito has his own reasons, that I am sure of, but I know that he is wanting to revive Madara and have him join the Akatsuki as it is now," Itachi crossed his arms, "From what I've seen of Sasuke's and his discussions, that was what the plan was. It did not seem like you were happy with the idea, but Obito promised you that the Hidden Leaf would get destroyed before then. I wouldn't be surprised if Obito turned on you."

Obito Uchiha. In one of the rare moments where Kakashi opened up to his squad, he mentioned that he was on a team that had an Uchiha on it. Sasuke does remember the name being similar to Obito, but there is always the chance that could have been another Uchiha.

"Yes, he was one of Kakashi-sama's teammates," Itachi said coolly.

Can he read my thoughts? That thought made Sasuke very uncomfortable. He did not like the idea of his older brother being able to tell what he was thinking. Sasuke could not feel his head being rummaged through, but he was sure it was happening. He somewhat pictured it as someone going through files in a filing cabinet.

"You say you care about Konoha?" Sasuke started, eyes now on the ground, no longer crimson with his kekkei genkai. "Then why destroy the Uchiha?"

"It was a mission."

'A mission?' Sasuke thought, 'So the village had something…'

"Shisui had wanted to use a special jutsu – Kotoamatsukami. The jutsu is able to… quite literally… change a person's opinions on everything. However, the jutsu has one major drawback. It can only be used once every ten years. Technically, Shisui could use it twice at the time that he had wanted to use the jutsu on all of the Uchiha," Itachi said, his own expression hardening, "But Danzo didn't want that, and convinced the Third to not go through with it. Instead, they chose me to… extinguish the Uchiha, due to me being with the ANBU. I was their spy, after all. Otou-san never noticed."

'They set him up to kill the Uchiha? What?' Sasuke thought to himself, his face blank as he did not want to show too much emotion at that point, 'And he was a spy? Why would he want to… Why would he want to be a spy? Did he truly have something against the Uchiha?'

"The Uchiha were planning a coup d'état, as they believed that they should be the ones running the village, rather than the Hokage," Itachi said, clearly reading his younger brother's thoughts, "I was more well-suited to be a spy, considering I would, one day, become the head of Uchiha clan. Or at least, that was what I was being taught to become, even from a young age."

Sasuke's eyes grew defiant, "The Uchiha would not do such a thing."

"Are you sure?"

Itachi's eyes focused on the scene behind him, and Sasuke watched as his father spoke to another man.

("It's coming together, albeit rather slowly," Fugaku said, arms crossed against his chest, his crimson eyes flickering from the left to the right – keeping an eye on intruders no doubt, "The village once belonged to us. The Hokage is no longer fit for the role."

The other man nodded, "I will support you until the end, Fugaku-sama.")

Sasuke shook his head. "No, Otou-san would never—"

His older brother cut in, "You do not know our father as well as I do. While he was a good man, deep down, and wanted the village to be safe, the power of our eyes made him want more. We always want more."

'Power…'

Itachi's eyes portrayed sadness. Even in Sasuke's head, it was clear that his brother did not want things to… end the way they did. Still, surely he could have done something else? Hell, why was he kept alive when everyone else was slaughtered? That would have made things easier for him, definitely. Having to deal with the ghosts of one's dead relatives was what drove Sasuke to want vengeance. He wanted their voices gone, so he could figure out what he wanted, rather than having to deal with the heavy burden of revenge.

The avenger closed his eyes.

"There is more," Itachi said, his voice soft now – as if he was nervous about what needed to be said next, "I would only do this task on one condition. The Hokage allowed me that much, and that is why you are standing in front of me breathing now. I would have turned against the Leaf before having to kill you. I wanted to keep you safe, and allow you to become the hero that took down the one who extinguished the Uchiha clan."

Sasuke's eyes opened in a rush, his eyes now focusing on his elder brother. His presence seemed… haunting. But cool and collected. His long hair flowed behind him, as if a draft decided that now would be the time to come through. Even in the dream world, weather seemed to affect them both. Itachi shook his head again.

"I never planned on allowing you to know of any of this, yet the masked man—" an image appeared of a man wearing an orange mask, one eye slit poked through, with a crimson sharingan easy enough to see, "—Obito Uchiha told you everything. Though, lies were sprinkled in. He helped me with extinguishing the clan. He also knew that you would be kept safe. I never realised that he was the key to a lot of things that happened, including the attack on Konoha by the Kyuubi. That was another reason that the elders and the Hokage viewed genocide as being a solution – they were afraid that we were the ones that orchestrated that particular attack on the village. While I believe there is some truth, considering Uchiha Obito was involved, I don't think it had anything to do with our clan mates that resided within Konoha."

Behind him, images that could not have been from Itachi's point of view showed. A masked man was explaining everything to… well. He assumed himself. Sasuke's eyes widened at the sudden realisation that his brother had his eyes. How? Why? Sasuke had seen very clearly that his other-self had a functioning sharingan and… whatever that other thing was. Sasuke watched as the masked man gave his other-self information in regards to Itachi's true intentions, as well as watching black flames appear from the man's shoulder, no doubt from the mangekyou sharingan.

"I wholeheartedly believe that Obito is the one who crafted you into the man you become in this timeline," his brother's words rang through his ears. "I wonder if your view on things will change."

A few emotions flooded through Sasuke. Grief, anger and straight-up homicidal intent. The third Hokage allowed this? He allowed his brother to slaughter his own clan? What sort of leader did that!? Sasuke felt his anger peak when his sharingan activated without his permission, fury flooding through him like a poison. The pace of his heart picked up, and he swore he could see red hinge around the edges. The Uchiha were slaughtered because of an order for the very village that apparently protected him? And they wanted him to go after his brother.

Itachi swept forward, and placed a hand on Sasuke's shoulder, "I'm sure your feelings were the same then, but what you do now can change things. I wanted you to know so you could hopefully make the right choice."

Sasuke brushed him off, "They killed our clan, Itachi! And they made you do it? How can you not be angry!?"

"A shinobi is a tool," he said coolly. "All I wanted was peace, and the Uchiha would have found themselves in the way of that. Even if the main members orchestrating the mutiny were gone, it still would have happened. That I am sure of. There was too much unrest between the village and the Uchiha. There was a reason why we were located further away from the village," he let out a breath. "I had already seen the effects of war, and I did not want to wish it upon the next generation."

The avenger growled out, "Who gives a shit? What sort of system allows an entire bloodline to be wiped out from fear!?"

Itachi's eyes narrowed, "Do you really think that Otou-san would have stopped with the Hidden Leaf? There would have been an all-out war, Sasuke."

Sasuke paused. War. That was what his brother was afraid of.

"Otou-san's wants spilled onto you. There's a reason why there's war now. You allowed your hatred to evolve to such a point to where you would even hurt those closest to you."

The two brother's stared at each-other in silence.

Itachi spoke up once again after a few moments, "Are you going to allow this knowledge to turn you into the monster you saw earlier today? Are you going to allow all the atrocities to be committed once more? Just for this so-called vengeance that you so desperately need?"

Sasuke's eyes narrowed, "What does it matter? The Leaf does deserve to be punished for its crimes."

The younger brother watched as Itachi let out a hollow laugh, "Then nothing will change. You will do what you did to Sakura, and you will kill Naruto."

… Sakura. Naruto.

His two teammates that he harmed the most.

He shook his head.

An avenger doesn't have bonds –

He couldn't.

He had to… He had to avenge his clan.

But.

Was it worth it?

Sasuke's eyes flickered up.

"This is what you've always wanted, isn't it?" It was his own voice but…

"N—No! Not like this, Sasuke-kun! P—Please!"

Sasuke squeezed his eyes shut, now realising what was taking place in front of him.

'No—I don't want to hear…!'

"This is what you'll do," Itachi said, his voice hard and unsympathetic now, "Why not hear what you'll do, then?" cruelty dripped from the bottom of his tone, a voice he had only heard a handful of times come from his brother's mouth.

And the vision appeared in Sasuke's head.

Green and pink were the first things he saw, and tears and—

"Enough, Itachi!"

And it faded away as quickly as it came. 'I don't want to see. I don't…'

The two brothers fell to silence once more.

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The genjutsu faded. And his brother was still standing in front of him, disappointment evident in his eyes.

"I didn't want to… subject you to that, Sasuke," Itachi said, "But… that is one thing that you did before your eyes were replaced with mine."

'So… that's what happened.'

He knew. He knew damn well that—

Sakura.

He couldn't… surely… no, he just… He did not know what to think. It hurt. It hurt so damn much that he had done that. It hurt her a lot more than that, though. He hadn't even seen everything, and he…

"If things continue along down this path, the same thing will no doubt happen," Itachi said, voice now clipped. "We may as well send you both back without your memories. Nothing can be changed. If hatred is what is going to continue to drive you, then there is no hope for any of us."

Sasuke looked down, feeling numb.

'No… I don't want Sakura to—'

But… the village needed to pay.

"I do not have the memories of what happened with Naruto, but…" Itachi shook his head, "I am sure that is not much better."

Sasuke needed time to think – 'Time isn't a luxury I have right now.' What could he do? The village quite literally fucked everyone in the Uchiha clan over! But would he still allow himself to hurt Sakura like that? To kill Naruto? Neither of those things were something he wanted. Even fighting Naruto in the Valley of the End, he did not want to murder the boy he considered to be his best friend. It had been something that had crossed his mind, sure, but in the end… it wasn't something he wanted, even for the power of the mangekyou sharingan. He did not want to follow in his brother's footsteps, after all. Yet, clearly, what he knew about Itachi and that night was wrong. Of course the village would keep it secret from him, they did not want their indiscretions to be known by anyone. Particularly, since they slaughtered the entirety of the Uchiha clan. Itachi may have committed the act, along with Obito, but… in the end, it was either that, full-blown war or…

Itachi lowered himself to Sasuke's height, "Danzo had threatened me with your life. I do not wish to regret not taking you down as well… but..."

'None of this would have happened, if he had killed me then…'

It was unsaid, but Sasuke could hear his brother's regrets. Itachi viewed it all as being his own fault as well, that Sasuke could tell – even though he was both furious and in agony.

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"Naruto," Hinata reached for his arm, "I need to speak with you, before you return back to the Uchiha compound. It's important. Please."

The Uzumaki boy was shell-shocked still, with everything. Itachi was here and living, and there was the ever-present threat of Sasuke striking in a week's time. He had been heading home after stress-eating a helpful serving of ramen. Hinata had spotted him, and had asked to chat for a moment. Whatever it was, the Hyuuga wanted to talk to him in private. She lead him to a more quieter part of the street. While Kakashi had not announced anything at this point, a dark aura surrounded the town. He had his face covered once again, and no one could recognise him he hoped. The chakra that had appeared in the town had no doubt alerted both shinobi and civilian. The evil Sasuke had not hidden an ounce of himself, as if he wanted people to attack him right then and there.

Hinata was very upset, no doubt hearing of everything from her son. The boy had probably told her everything that he could. She was filled with horror and grief, and was no doubt worried for her child.

"I've spoken to Sakura-chan already," Hinata said, her breath shallow, "She'll take Boruto with her when her and Sarada make a run for it. I'm sure that they will be taking you and Sasuke-san as well."

Her words were just above a whisper.

"I need you to do something for me. It's important," she said, pushing her hair away from her face, "I need you to remember. I've worked it out correctly, I'm fairly sure and Sakura-chan agrees with what I've said about it. I need you to do this, because my son needs exist still."

Was Hinata going to… A lot of responsibility dawned on Naruto. She was—

"September 4th. He was conceived then, please—" Hinata dropped her head, "—please let my son exist, please."

Naruto had his mouth slightly gaping. He needed to… He needed to do that with Hinata? He was eighteen, from what she had said before—that was around five years from then. And she was… seventeen. That was so young but—

Her eyes looked watery, "I know this is a lot to ask, but—"

"I'll… I'll do it, Hinata-chan," he said softly, looking at his feet, "If that's… what you want."

He wanted Boruto to exist too, but he wanted to be a father to the boy this time. That was something he wanted a lot. Sure, he was a kid now, but he understood the gravity to her words, and his existence as well.

"Thank you, Naruto," she wiped her eyes, "Thank you. I know this is a lot. I—"

"I promise you. Boruto will exist. You know I don't break my promises, right?"

She gave him a watery smile, "I know, Naruto, I know."