Chapter 11: When All is Said and Done
As the medic-nin left, Itachi found Tetsume staring down at him fiercely. He raised a thin eyebrow. "What?" he asked calmly. His eyes might have been replaced with Sasuke's, but they still held the same nonchalant arrogance.
"If you do that again, I'll kill you," she said humorlessly.
Itachi sat up in his bed and Tetsume studied a patch of wall as the blanket fell away from his bare chest. "There are several things wrong with that statement."
She looked at him crossly. "Well, I'm sure you'll enlighten me as to their nature."
"First, being that I now possess my brother's eyes, I will never have to do that again. Second, I highly doubt you are capable of killing me."
Tetsume just smiled at him sardonically. "Hopefully I'll never have to test that, Itachi-san you crazy bastard."
"Crazy bastard?" he echoed. "Now that's a little cold."
"And you deserve it for—" She broke off abruptly and walked over to the bedroom window to look out on an ordinary little street.
"For what, Tetsume?" Itachi asked.
"Nothing," she said quickly. "Get some rest." She started for the door.
"Tetsume, if you do not finish your sentence, I will be forced to get up and make you. Do you really want to do that to a man in my condition?"
She muttered a few curses and turned around again. "I was going to say you deserve if for worrying me like that." A light blush crept into her cheeks.
"Come here," he said quietly.
"Come here," he repeated. Tetsume obliged and came to stand next to his bedside. He looked at her seriously. "Do you love me, Tetsume?"
Her blush deepened. "I, uh, Itachi-san—"
"It's a simple question."
"With a damned complicated answer," she said before she could stop herself. "I… you're my father's friend."
"I am a great deal younger than Kisame. And he fathered you in his youth anyway."
"And you're an Akatsuki member and… and… my teacher," she said desperately.
"For such an intelligent girl, you seem unable to answer this one question," Itachi said with a touch of amusement."
Tetsume grew furious. "You're an asshole, you know."
"Come closer," he said.
"No," she said, starting to edge away from the bed, but Itachi had somehow managed to get a hold of her wrist and pulled her very close. Tetsume could smell the scent of him. It was light and natural. She gasped as he put a hand around the back of her head and pulled her face close to his.
Itachi's lips moved slowly over her own. Tetsume closed her eyes and when she opened them again found that she'd made it on to the bed with him and his arms were wrapped forcefully around her waist. "Eh, watch my side," he whispered in her ear.
"Sorry, but you deserved it, ass."
A large number of people were crowded into a hospital room that was rather small by Konoha's usual standards. "Well?" Sakura said from the back of the group. Sai stood next to her with an arm wrapped casually around her.
"You did well, Sakura," Tsunade said, looking up from the patient. "He'll be fine in a day or two."
"I won't be fine," Sasuke said. "Itachi took my eyes."
"That's your fault," Tsunade said crossly, looking down at the last Uchiha with distaste. "You refuse to allow others to help you. You think you must be alone because all your blood relations are dead. You may be blind, but you know perfectly well how many people are in this room." Tsunade took a deep calming breath.
"Kakashi, Naruto, I want the both of you to keep watch on him," Tsunade said. She departed shaking her head and rubbing her temples. "Damn, I need some sake."
"Wait! Tsunade-sama!" Shizune shouted and took off after her.
"I think we should go too," Sakura said softly to Sai. He nodded and they left the room quietly.
Kakashi wandered over to a chair in the corner and, without a word, pulled out a book and began to read, leaving Naruto to stand and stare at the bandages wrapped around Sasuke's head, hiding the ugly truth.
"What are you going to do now, Sasuke?" Naruto asked him.
"I don't have to tell you my plans," Sasuke replied. In the old days, this might have infuriated Naruto, but he had grown a good deal wiser about things.
"You don't have any plans, do you?" Sasuke didn't respond. "I don't care what you say; you're still a brother to me."
"I don't want a brother. I want revenge."
"Life doesn't work like that," Kakashi interrupted, looking up from his book in a rare moment. "You take what you get. You've got a brother. Deal with it."
They remained in silence for a few minutes until Naruto spoke. "I've got to go. I promised Hinata we'd go for ramen when we got back. You'll be alright, Kakashi-sensei?" The jounin gave a little wave. "I'll be back later."
"So he finally figured out Hinata loves him?" Sasuke asked.
"Of course not," Kakashi said.
"Same old dobe."
"Pretty much, but that's sort of why we like him."
Sasuke was feeling oddly chatty. "Sort of," he agreed.
And so it happened on that day that though Uchiha Sasuke failed to kill his brother and lost his eyes to the fearsome Itachi, he also returned to the place where he was meant to be all along. In subsequent years, he regained strength as he moved away from the village to live in solitude (occasionally interrupted solitude).
Many forget however that the center of this tale was never Uchiha Sasuke. No, as in all great stories, the very foundation is laid out with a strong woman. Haruno Sakura. Her choices and actions on that fateful day turned the tides of fate. She could have had anything she wanted. Sakura could have had the last Uchiha and gone with him willingly. But she did not.
Her heart belonged to another man, a man of a thousand insults. She endured his insults and stupidity for one thing: his smile. For Sakura was one of the blessed few who had ever known a true smiled from Sai.
And though the tale of Sakura and Sai's love and the obstacles it overcame was intended to be the grand design of this tale, as it often happens, other stories weave their way in and thus cannot be ignored.
Perhaps the only stranger set of lovers was Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Tetsume. It was perhaps the only testimony to their humanity that love could grow between two such ill-fated individuals. And it can be said also that the forces of love take pity indiscriminately for the two died together as Konoha finally avenged the Uchiha massacre and eliminated the looming threat of Akatsuki.
This story, however, does not presume to give a history lesson for these facts may be found in any textbook. It ends only with this message that love is found in the most unlikely of places and that stories such as these are never truly over. People grow old and die only to be born to love again. Enemies will always rise, but faith and love are powers that will always prevail.
"So… what do you think?"
"PERVERT! That's not how it happened!"
"What do you mean?" Jiraiya asked a rather angry Haruno Sakura whom he now feared just as much as Tsunade.
A vein pulsated in Sakura's forehead. "Sai did NOT ask you for advice!"
"Pff, details. He might as well have. And you have to admit the rest is entirely accurate," he continued.
"I'm burning the first chapter!"
"No! My precious!"
A big thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this story. I really couldn't have done it without you. Your reviews and suggestions have been invaluable and writing this story has been and interesting experience (especially since it was originally intended to be a oneshot). I hope this story was enjoyable and encourages you to read my other pieces and well as some of my cowritten work under the penname "Tragedy of Madness." One more sappy thank you, and please review if you can. Madness