Title: Mixed With the Lightning of Slaughter
Rating/Pairings: PG-13. Gen.
Summary: He keeps dreaming of a future gone to hell, but it's irrational to think that his visions would actually happen, right? Or so Sasuke thinks... but there are too many coincidences that prevent him from dismissing his dreams as mere illusions. Timetravel.
Notes: I've always been fond of AU and timetravel stories; there's so much potential in exploring how things could have gone differently. The story diverges from canon starting at Ch. 172 ("Returning Home"), when Tsunade heals Sasuke's Tsukuyomi trauma. The title of the fic comes from Algernon Swinburne's poem "Dolores." Warning for inordinate use of italics. :P Naruto is not mine.
prologue - unreal images
"He'll wake up soon," Tsunade said, her hand resting on Sasuke's forehead.
Smoke, and fire, and bloodbloodblood sliding down his arm in thin rivulets. All burnt to ashes, and now just a flood of red light, red brightness that explodes from the body on the ground—
Even when the dobe's dead, Sasuke thinks numbly, he's still chasing after him, and the Kyuubi's chakra reaches out to him and wraps around—
His head felt like someone had dragged it upon a layer of fiery embers a hundred times over.
Where—Itachi? But I—
No, he—used Tsukuyomi on me, the massacre—
—but I killed him, how was he there in Tsukuyomi—
Ridiculous. He'd killed Itachi, so it couldn't be that Itachi was alive.
Wait. No, he hadn't killed Itachi yet. Not yet. He hadn't been strong enough. Why had he thought he killed Itachi?
His head was pounding, and he felt a hand on his forehead. What…? Then he felt the channel of healing chakra, and suddenly the headache and pain seeped away so slowly and effortlessly that his frantic thoughts faded in relief and for a moment he did not think of anything but the strange comfort of his blank mind.
The bed was soft—bed? Where was he?
—sweat-soaked, blood-stained ground—a broken, smashed-up hallway—
As he opened his eyes—
"Sasuke!" Impossibly bright and exuberant, and no, how is he still speaking, he's dead—
Strangled sob. "Sasuke-kun…" Light and soft and sounding like she was going to cry—
Somewhere, in the muddled mess of his mind, Sasuke thought, Ah, they're here, so Itachi and that shark-nin aren't here. Good. But I didn't kill Itachi. Damn it.
But over that came the sudden overwhelming rush no no they can't be here they're dead dead dead—
—she's slumped, skewered through the heart, and he—he's bloody and not moving and why the fuck did he have to come chasing him now, why didn't he stay in Konoha away from the Akatsuki—
He tensed his muscles and, in a convulsive gesture, sprang from the bed—someone gave a sharp, high cry of surprise—and was on the other side of the room before anything else could happen, before the others could move to stop him. His left leg crumpled when he landed—he let out a strangled gasp, awkwardly leaning on his knee. His hand went instinctively for his weapons pouch—it wasn't there?—he snapped his head up, breathing heavily with exertion. His body was this weak? This—his vulnerability—it was appalling.
Four other people in the room. Sasuke couldn't gather himself together at first, saw blotchy yellow and pink and dark brown—
They swam into focus. A stern-looking blonde woman who stared at him with narrowed brown eyes who's that—Godaime of course, wait what and the dark-haired woman behind her, and—
"Teme!" Again that voice, loud and growling. "What do you think you're doing? You've been knocked out for ages, don't jump around like that and act all cool! You're scaring Sakura-chan!"
Sasuke snapped his head around abruptly and stared wide-eyed at them, not speaking. Sakura? The girl's green eyes full of concern and a tinge of wariness, and her red dress—but she was supposed to be older, she looks older than that—drawn face and grimly set jaw and where are her gloves?—how is she here? And the boy's shining blond hair, outrageously orange jumpsuit—here Sasuke backpedaled. Orange jumpsuit?
But that wasn't unusual, the idiot always wore that—there's orange in the clothes, but now there's black as well, and his face has lengthened and matured, whiskers stretching on his cheeks—
"Don't rile him up," said the blonde woman snappishly. "He's been caught in doujutsu for a month—don't taunt him, Naruto!"
Sasuke flinched at the name unconsciously, shoved as it was into his face. No, the boy couldn't be Naruto, can't be Naruto uh yes he is Naruto no he's dead this isn't him this is impossible so it can't be—and his mind was floundering—no other ninja would have such terrible taste in clothes—but he'd seen him ripped apart, so plainly someone else did have such terrible taste in clothes.
A strange twisting gush of hate welled up in him. No one alive could dare have the same taste in clothes as Naruto. Because—because—no one else could be that stupid, of course.
"—and don't make any sudden movements, he might still be dazed from the jutsu—"
"Yeah, well—what's with the look on your face, Sasuke? Hey hey!"
"Shut up," gritted Sasuke, ignoring the blond's indignant "What?" This is genjutsu, this is genjutsu, he told himself coldly, but even though it must be genjutsu and he really ought to be thinking of ways to escape, he looked down and away from them. Couldn't look at them.
And how had they plucked this scene out of his mind? Because they'd done a terrible job with it—because it wasn't going as he remembered it, not at all—
His mind went blank. The way he remembered it? There was nothing to remember. And Naruto and Sakura were just being annoying—
—there was, yes yes there was something to remember. And they were not real. They are not real.
"Sasuke-kun." He didn't look up; it was the girl speaking. "Sasuke-kun. It's fine, Tsunade-sama healed you. You—you can relax now, all right? We're here for you."
"—and stop looking at me and Sakura-chan like you're going to kill us, and anyway that man isn't here—"
That man. He'd killed him. Why did they keep bringing that up?
He snapped his head up so quickly his neck hurt, hands in a seal. "Kai!" he snapped, and his Sharingan whirled, because he could and would break through this fucking genjutsu, and he glared and glared. He was going to killthem, the people behind this—eviscerate them from the hollow of their necks to their navels and watch them die slowly, painfully. He wasn't a damn sentimental fool. "You can't be here," he said, breathing vehemently. His chest was beginning to pain him. "You're dead. I saw you die. You think I can't see through genjutsu as stupid as this? Whoever you are, you're as idiotic as they always were."
In the next moment, as he saw their stunned eyes and gaping mouths and dumbstruck faces, the feeling of exhaustion crept over him, chakra draining out of him, and he only had time to think I'm so weak this is pathetic so so pathetic before his body failed him.
Two voices of horror as he collapsed to the floor—"Sasuke!"
His vision went black.
The prologue is meant to set up the initial memory backlash Sasuke has—before his mind represses them, that is, so for the next few chapters afterwards you won't see much of the future. Sasuke isn't about to realize that it was actually timetravel. Yet.
The thing with most timetravel stories is that once the time traveler's future mind takes over the old body, the minds combine together in a generally seamless way, with an occasional "and he remembered the person dying and was sad" or something like that. I wanted to show exactly how the present memories clash with the future memories in real time, because that's one of the central conflicts in time travel, imho. It's not all "okay, I'll save everyone this time and make the world a better place" (Can you imagine Sasuke saying that? XD That would be Naruto's line.). It's more "wtf is going on, I don't understand."
And the source of the fic title is from:
When, with flame all around him aspirant,
Stood flushed, as a harp-player stands,
The implacable beautiful tyrant,
Rose-crowned, having death in his hands;
And a sound as the sound of loud water
Smote far through the flight of the fires,
And mixed with the lightning of slaughter
A thunder of lyres.
—Algernon Swinburne, "Dolores"
("The lightning of slaughter" is totally Chidori.)