-17-

-17-

My Choice

The very last thing Uchiha Sasuke saw was how the image of Madara disappears in the whiteness of his Chidori. Right after that, when Sasuke opened his eyes, he found himself at a completely white space, his body already out of the second stage. Sasuke immediately recognized it. This is it. The place between life and death Sakura was talking about. So I suppose he-

"Welcome, Sasuke-kun" a voice made him whirl around and meet face to face with Madara.

"This is between life and death" Sasuke instantly said.

"Keen eye" Madara smirked "only this time I wasn't the one, creating it" Sasuke eyed him for a moment.

"No, it was born naturally for both of us. So this is how two equal shinobi end up" Sasuke also smirked.

"Correct. However, only one of us is going to escape this endless prison" Madara let out a light dramatic laugh "the other one will be wandering this endless white desert for all eternity"

"And I suppose you will still be clinging to your pathetically empty life?"

"Isn't your life quite empty as well?" Madara shot the question back. Sasuke was taken aback by such an unexpected question.

"Why can't you answer this instantly?" Madara's smirk widened "is it because you don't really have a life?" Sasuke's eyes widened. All my life I've focused on one single goal: Uchiha Itachi. And with that…I may have forgotten everything else…I may have stopped being…simply a person.

"You know, Sasuke-kun" Madara talked on shrewdly "you and I are both walking the same path. We both desire power. That is the goal of the Uchiha clan: to be dominant at everything. That was the reason I founded it. That was the reason I became immortal" he walked closer to Sasuke "and you posses the same…no, the greater power than anyone else has ever had. Do you really want to waste it on such insignificant things like friendship or pathetic love?"

Sasuke lifted his coal black eyes to Madara and stared at them. He couldn't believe how true his clansman was.

Friendship…love…family…life…can I really be happy with this? Can I be full?

"You're already a rouge, Sasuke-kun" Madara continued "and for rogues, there's no way back"

"What do you want me to do?" Sasuke growled in low voice. Madara's smile suddenly became victorious.

"I want you to live and take the world for yourself. I want the Uchiha clan rule every part of the Earth. I want the old order of villages, kindness and trusts fall into dusts. It is all rotten and old. Our Sharingan can predict the future: new world. New life!"

Sasuke's mind suddenly shut off from what Madara was saying and seemingly traveled back in time.

Naruto…the only real brother I've ever had since…forever. Kakashi…the teacher, best one I had ever went through with. Then Hebi…Suigetsu, Karin, Juugo…we maybe started with just our own individual goals, but now…we're comrades…friends. Then Sai…strange, but…also good friend. And now…Sakura…when she came into my life, everything changed. I changed. She changed me. And…do I really want this to go away? This feeling…of wholeness when I think about all those people around me.

"How is it going to be?" Madara's voice brought Sasuke back to the present "will you carry out Uchiha clan's goal?" Sasuke looked at Madara with empty look for a while…then a laugh escaped him lips.

"You don't get anything at all, oblivious piece of shit" Madara's smile was blown away "I already posses the world"

"WHAT?!" Madara exploded with rage.

"You see?" the surroundings began to shake and Madara could barely stand on his feet, while Sasuke was clam and it seemed that the sudden earthquake didn't affect him at all "I will be the one leaving here. And don't worry about the clan: it will live on"

"You! You took over this!" Madara looked around the crumbling white space, which now only held Sasuke in the midst of black emptiness. Madara was about to fall, but his hand clung onto the last bits of the white world.

"I've heard your thoughts, Sasuke-kun!" Madara shouted up at his clansman "I will not stay a mere memory! The clan you look forward to build shall not survive"

"Let's put it to the test then" Sasuke smirked and lightly put his feet on Madara's hand "I'll tell you about results. That is if we meet in Hell" and Sasuke stepped harder on the hand: the shard of the white space, which Madara was clinging on broke off the shinobi fell after the rest of the space.

Sasuke suddenly saw everything turning back into whiteness again. Pleasurable fragility and vagueness filled his body and the next thing he heard was a dozens distant voices, slowly growing lauder.

"Yo, Sasuke!' a familiar voice called his name, but Sasuke felt to weak to answer.

"Yo, Earth to Sasuke-teme! Wake up, you baka!"

"Shut up, dope!" the Uchiha shot back and tore his eyes open: the first thing he saw was grey clouds and slowly falling snowflakes, landing on his face and eyelashes.

"Though this is going to work" the same voice giggled. Sasuke turned his head left and found Naruto, all worn out and scratched, lying next to him "that was one hell of a stunt you pulled over there. I thought I was going to fry!"

"It's better you would have" Sasuke shot back, pressing his hand to his forehead "my head already hurts like hell"

Both shinobi sat up with pants, growls and pains here and there. Sasuke looked around and found that most of ninja that were fighting could barely move. The lucky thing was that most of Akatsuki forces were eliminated and now, well enough ninjas of Konoha tied the remaining up. Sasuke's look suddenly fixed on two things: one completely foreseen and the other absolutely unexpected. Madara's body was lying motionless and dead and further away…

"Itachi" Sasuke whispered, his eyes widened.

"Yeah" Naruto nodded "Sakura finished him off right after you started the fight with that Madara guy. Sorry about that"

"No need" Sasuke's gaze suddenly became empty and he lowered it "he wasn't even worth of that" but suddenly another thought hit him "where is Sakura?"

"Well, she went to-" Naruto couldn't finish his sentence, since Hinata popped out of nowhere (she also was bruised and scratched, some wounds on her arm even lightly bled) and fell on him, hugging his neck tightly.

"Naruto-kun!" she said in his ear "you're alright! I was so scared"

"Hey, Hinata-chan! I'm perfectly fine" Naruto hugged her back, happy and sheepish smile shining on him like the second sun "can't take me down that easily"

"Hn. Show off" Sasuke watched his two comrades and could barely hold back a little smile. His gaze, however, suddenly located a certain pink-haired figure with torn cream cloak…standing in front of unknown hooded and cloaked stranger. The two weren't talking, just staring at each other. Sakura's expression had anger written all over it when she looked up at the stranger. Sasuke's eyes narrowed when they turned into Sharingan and he inspected the chakra of hooded man: to his surprise, it was very similar to Sakura's. Suddenly, the stranger disappeared with Transfer Jutsu and Sakura was left standing alone. Her expression now was empty and slowly, but very surely, a little smile bloomed on her lips. She turned to Sasuke and walked to him.

"You're alright?" was his first question. Sakura nodded and sat beside him on the ground.

"I was more worried about you, but…looks like everything turned out fine" she overlooked the dead body of Madara being wrapped in a black material.

"Sakura, who was that?" Sasuke suddenly asked "the person you were talking to minutes ago" Sakura turned her head to him, eyes full of surprise. Then, a little smile again broke out on her lips. She leaned in and kissed Sasuke lightly.

"I'll tell you all about him when we get back. No need to get jealous"

"I'm not!" Sasuke began to protest, but was interrupted by Karin, Suigetsu and Juugo, rejoining them again.

"You, guys, seem to get along well" Suigetsu smirked "well, Sasuke-kun, congratulations, looks like now you're really the last of the clan"

"Right" Sasuke and Sakura stood up.

"What are we going to do now?" Karin asked, still helping Suigetsu to keep standing "he needs medical attendance and…" she stopped, as if not daring to finish.

"What four-eyes wants to say is that what is it going to be with Hebi?" Sasuke sighed. Yes, it was trouble now. He never considered into his calculations the future of his team after the battle is over.

"Still working on it?" a firm, feminine voice reached the group. Tsunade was coming their, dangerously annoyed expression on her face.

"Hey, Tsunade-baa-chan" Naruto said nervously "you know, you shouldn't punish any one of them, because, well, they sort of helped the most in battle and all, and-"

"So you say!" Tsunade yelled at them "you, Uchiha, not only pushed your comrades and your village into grave danger, but also cooperated with S-ranked criminals and left your village without approval again"

"But, Hokage-sama-" Karin tried to interfere.

"Silence!" Tsunade raised her gloved hand "this is unacceptable"

"But we volunteered to go, Hokage-sama" Sai spoke the minute he joined the group.

"Exactly!" Tsunade overlooked the entire group with angry gaze. Sakura and Sasuke exchanged looks. The kunoichi's hand wrapped around Sasuke's and their fingers connected.

"However" Tsunade said after few moments "looks like your little outburst cost us the elimination of Akatsuki" smile lit up on her lips "good job, everyone. You and your both teams will be cleared of all charges and from now on will have a free entrance to Konoha"

"S-seriously?" Naruto widened his eyes to suddenly oh-so-friendly Tsunade.

"Yes"

"Yay! Now you guys can stay all you want! Ramen is the best at Konoha, believe it!"

"Yeah, what a joy" Suigetsu noted ironically and followed the medical ninja, who came by Tsunade's orders.

Sasuke watched his comrades walking away and couldn't help but think darkly: what if they…can't stay?

-x-

Later at night

Sasuke was standing in the middle of the path he once already walked when he left Konoha for the first time. White snowflakes fell on his black-cloaked shoulders and raven hair. Somehow, the Uchiha now felt empty. Although his mind was working hard to decide what to do, his heart stayed somehow emotionless. The fact that he killed Uchiha Madara just few hours ago seemed so far away now.

Hebi…they can't stay here. I've seen them in hospital, they don't feel right here. And I can't just leave with them. But I want to. And I also want to stay. But I don't want them to be forced to stay here. But I leave, I'll be leaving Naruto and Sakura… and Sai. Oh, come on! When did you become so indecisive!! Can't I just find an alternative for all of us?

"Seeing you here is kinda creepy, you know" bell-like feminine voice reached Sasuke's ears. He immediately recognized it: there was no other voice like that he knew of.

"Why, Sakura?"

"Because when you do, there's a good chance you will leave" she walked closer to him "what's bothering you?"

"Hebi" Sasuke answered instantly: he felt like just talking it all out "I don't want to abandon them. But I also don't want to abandon you"

"What are you planning to do then?" Sakura turned to him and saw that same dangerously empty look and blocked soul.

"I'm thinking…about leaving" Sasuke told the truth. This made kunoichi's heart almost jump out of her chest. Sasuke continued:

"I can't be sure about myself anymore as well. Maybe…maybe Madara was right about me: I'm a rouge. And I can't settle down anymore"

"Yes, you can1" Sakura suddenly shouted at him "you can if you really want to! And Madara was wrong all along! He believed that people can't change back and I say it's not true! IYou would've turned into something like Orochimaru if you were not able to change!" Sasuke listened to her, all thoughts inside his head mixing into one black mass.

"I also used to think I can't settle down, but when I met you…everything changed!" tears rolled down her face "everything I've been doing till I came to Konoha…it now looses its importance, because you are here. And while you're here…we can live at home. I know Konoha is your home, no matter how you put it. And if you leave…" she took a short breath "I will loose my home once again. We both will be homeless again. Don't you want to regain what you lost?"

Regain what I've lost? Can sins be forgiven? I will put it a test, that's what I told Madara.

Sasuke brought Sakura into hug. The kunoichi hugged him back with arms tightly around his neck. Here I go again, begging him not to leave. How ironic. People use to beg me not to leave.

"Please, don't go" she whispered to his ear. Sasuke stayed silent. Until a soft and warm smile lit on his lips.

"Juugo" he said silently "needs to be under constant watch. Tsunade may even think of something for his uncontrolled malice" Sakura gasped. Did he just..?

"Karin used to complain how she wants more medical training. And it looks like Konoha here has the best byo-nin training in the country"

"And Suigetsu?" Sakura whispered.

"It really does not look like it, but he has the brains. And Konoha could really use some jounin these days. And besides" Sasuke retreated and looked straight into Sakura's green orbs "I always though that something like Uchiha Sakura sounds nice"

Sakura froze. I hope this isn't another dream.

"So, you're-"

"Guess I have no other choice" Sasuke lightly kissed Sakura's forehead "I don't think I'll ever forgive myself if I leave you and everything behind again"

"But will they agree?"

"I'll use persuasion" Sasuke smirked "don't worry about it. Better worry what to do with your parlor"

"Why?" Sakura frowned.

"You're moving in with me. To old Uchiha mansion. Think of it: you can move in with an entire chocolate factory" Sakura laughed lightly and they both walked back to the village hand in hand.

"I think I know what to do already" she turned to Sasuke and stopped again "I haven't told you this, but…" she touched his cheek lightly "I love you"

"I knew that" Sasuke leaned in and kissed her "and you should know as well: I love you"

Epilogue

Summer. Six years later…

"Suigetsu, you baka, find someone else!" Karin's voice came from the hospital office, where she was working "I already have number or missions"

"Come on, I need you for this one. I don't make me beg, four-eyes"

"Well, if you stop insulting me all the time" Karin fixed her hair, removing them from strapped shoulder: the summer came unbelievable hot "I might consider it"

"Alright" Suigetsu sighed: it was still hard for him to deal with Karin. She just asked to be made fun of "we're going to Uchiha's tonight. If I throw any joke about you, you will never ask you to go to the mission again" Karin leaned back in her chair and smirked.

"We have a deal then"

"See you tonight" Suigetsu waved while walking out through the door, Samehada hanging on his back.

Sheesh, so many years and I still can't get along with that woman. What a bother. Oh well, if she's coming to the mission, I better make sure she does it every time I need her. Troublesome, as Shikamaru would say. Heh, he was right: women are troublesome. Might as well go visit Juugo at bird tower, see how he's doing. Job of a squad leader Jounin isn't exactly free time activity.

-x-

"Hey, Sai?" Naruto referred to his friend. They were sitting at Ichiraku's, waiting for their ramen to come.

"Hm?" Sai retreated from a book he was reading.

"Haven't you ever though about having a girlfriend?"

"Girl…friend?" Sai thought for a while "no, I haven't. Why?"

"Well maybe you should" Naruto shot him a sheepish smile "you know, I have Hinata, Sasuke has Sakura and you need someone too"

"I still, however, don't really understand how you managed to get Hinata's attention" Sai said, taking the chopsticks.

"What do you mean?" Naruto's eyes instantly lit up with suspicion.

"Well, your penis isn't really amazing, so-"

"WHAT WAS THAT!" few people even stopped to look who's shouting like that.

Yeah, guess nothing really changes that much.

But…

-x-

Sakura has just finished another book on medical herbs. She stretched out on the terrace's floor, letting her body, dressed with only little black dress, with Uchiha fan on the back, relax. She looked at the ceiling for a while, not thinking of anything particularly, but her lips shone with little happy smile.

"Ka-chan!" a childish voice called and Sakura instantly sat up. She didn't have time to look around to identify the caller, when a little copy of Sasuke jumped on her and hug her neck.

"Ka-chan, ka-chan, look at my eyes!" the five-year-old boy smiled happily and activated his Sharingan, currently only with two black drops. Sakura watched her son's sudden growth of strength and her happy smiled widened.

"Amazing, Sakirou, dear" Sakura hugged the boy "does your father know?"

"No" Sakirou suddenly grew sad "I couldn't find him anywhere" the kunoichi smiled understandingly.

"I think I know where he is" the boy's smile came back with a flash.

-x-

Uchiha Sasuke lifted himself by arms and sat on a wooden dock, water pouring down his body. Man, it's hot. Sasuke was only wearing long black pants, ANBU uniform and weapons thrown by his side. He looked up at the cloudless blue sky and let the sun rays dry him.

Suddenly, Sasuke felt his eyes being covered by something soft and warm.

"Guess who!" a child's voice called out.

"Don't need to" Sasuke put his hand around Sakirou's waist and brought him from behind. The boy hugged his father's neck and giggled.

"Hey, look what I got!" he said happily and showed his Sharingan. Sasuke looked at his son with surprise for a while, then his gaze softened.

"Nothing less from my son" he said softly.

"Will you help me train with Sharingan, otou-chan?" Sakirou asked with a childishly worried tone. Sasuke laughed softly.

"Sure I will"

"Yay! Did you hear that, ka-chan?! Otou-chan will help me improve my Sharingan!" Sakirou smiled widely and sheepishly to Sakura, who closed to them.

"I sure did" she smiled kindly to both of them "now come on. Suigetsu and the gang are coming this evening"

"Right" Sasuke lifted his son and sat him on his shoulders. Sakirou laughed from happiness "as long as Naruto stays without his sexy-no-jutsu" Sasuke sighed.

"Hey, I've heard Hinata gave him a rough time the other day for that" Sakura giggled "don't think that's gonna happen ever again"

"Otou-chan, is that…sexy-no-jutsu so bad?" Sakirou asked innocently.

"Yes, it is" Sasuke looked up at his son "and don't take examples from Naruto. Even though he's soon-to-be Hokage" Sasuke sighed.

The family walked away from the little wooden dock, Sasuke's arm around Sakura's waist and Sakirou smiling happily on Sasuke's shoulders.

-x-

On one of Konoha's roofs, a hooded and cloaked figure watched the family walking away. A warm and soft wind played a little with Hideki's cloak. Looks like you're happy now, Sakura. I was wrong: Uchiha Sasuke is the best person there is for you in this world. Be happy.

THE END

­--

A/N: and there it's over…I know what you will say: why the hell it ended so quickly. Sorry, it just turned out so…anyway, I'm taking about a week of break and then…who knows, maybe I'll start my new story ;)))) anyway, thank you sooooo much for support, comments and all, especially love4hao ;) I thank you for everything, really ;) see ya all next time ;)

Lady of The Dark Sky