Memento – an Itachi & Sakura story
Disclaimer: Naruto and all its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
A/N: Last chapter!
Chapter Eight – Moiety
She wasn't quite sure what to call them. They were lying there like ying and yang; Itachi dressed in black, Sasuke in white. Good and bad. Light and shadow. Uchiha Sasuke and Uchiha Itachi.
… Revenge and sacrifice.
Sakura released the breath she wasn't aware she was holding and stumbled forward, molding chakra to her fingertips. She sidestepped most of the debris and the final, small fires that had formed in the grass and trees around her, towards the two Uchiha siblings on the ground.
Itachi was closest to her.
Even from where she was standing could she easily see the hole that had been punched through him. The crude smell of burned flesh clung to the air, signalling that it was the chidori that had enabled Sasuke to create a wound of that size.
The numb feeling deep inside of her disappeared as she broke into a run, landing roughly on her knees beside Itachi. As soon as she saw his face, Sakura knew it was too late.
Dried blood caked to his cheeks and eyes. His eyes were slightly opened, the color of them now midnight blue. Unseeing eyes, so unlike the alert ones she had gotten used to. His lips were parted, but his chest didn't rise anymore.
Shakily, Sakura brought her hand to his face, gently closing his eyes as she brushed the last blood away from his numerous cuts. She noticed several drops of water falling down on Itachi's shirt and glanced up towards the sky, confused, as the rain had stopped. It took her a while to realize that they were her tears.
And then she was sobbing loudly, clenching Itachi's shirt in her hands, not caring that Sasuke might wake up in a few minutes and see her bawling over his dead brother's body. There was no way that she could stifle the sobs as she leaned forward, pressing her face against his chest, remembering how kind he had been before she had left.
That had been him; that was the true Itachi hidden underneath thousands of layers filled with lies and masks that he had created for himself the day of the massacre. He was not a bad person at all. All Itachi ever wanted was to protect his brother. His goals were shared with the rest of team seven's since the day Iruka told them they were in a team together.
If only she had understood the subliminal messages earlier; if only Sasuke hadn't come to her, and if only she had realized that Sasuke would be coming for her. Of course he would. This was Itachi, the entire reason of his existence. Even if he hadn't kidnapped Sakura, he would have gone there for his revenge.
Sakura's tears finally stopped at some point as she grabbed both Itachi's hands and folded them together on his stomach. Then, with some consideration, did she slide off his scarlet ring and pocketed it. It would be a memento for her, a reminder who Itachi had pretended to be and who he really was. "I'm sorry, Itachi," she whispered to the smiling man. "I shouldn't have left."
"Go, if you must."
With that, Sakura stood up and walked towards Sasuke, molding chakra in her hands, enjoying the warmth of it as they heated her fingers. As she crouched down, she moved her hands to one of the larger cuts on his chest.
It was still insufficient enough to kill him, but Itachi sure as hell had done a good job faking the fight, Sakura noticed. Several cuts were located on his chest, arms and face, none of them severe, but still, they had to hurt him.
Seconds went by, but the wound on Sasuke's chest didn't close as fast as it should have. Confused, Sakura stopped the healing process, and removed her hand from his chest. Sakura frowned as she inspected the wound. It had closed up, but only slightly.
"What the-" She started to say, but silenced herself.
Sasuke wasn't breathing.
The world ended.
"… Sasuke-kun…" Sakura whispered, eyes widening as she touched his chest, now without chakra surrounding her fingers. His skin was cool, like Itachi's had been.
"No… nonono," Sakura said under her breath, grasping Sasuke's shoulders. None of his injuries could have been fatal. Itachi wouldn't kill Sasuke; he went to great length to ensure that his brother would live. It didn't make any sense. "Sasuke… Sasuke," she said, shaking Sasuke's still body. "Sasuke, wake up. This isn't funny anymore."
She was screaming his name now, in gut wrenching sobs as she continued to shake him, convincing herself that this was just a bad dream. Right now, she should still be in Konoha and be aware that Itachi was the pig she always thought he was. And both Sasuke and Naruto would be safe; the both of them would still be there today, tomorrow, a week from now, bickering with each other as they always did.
"Sakura… thank you."
"Open your eyes, Sasuke," Sakura said as she stopped shaking him. She molded the last of her chakra to her fingertips and put them to his chest again. "Open your eyes. You're not dead. You have your whole life ahead of you. This is not the end."
"I told you before; I'm an avenger. And nobody, not even you, will stop me."
She remained silent as she closed one of his wounds, tears unstoppable. Her hands were shaking and even though the sun shone, it felt as though she was suffering from hypothermia. Over and over did she whisper Sasuke's name under her breath until she finally closed his wound.
"There. See, I fixed it. Now open your eyes," Sakura said, smiling through her tears as she cradled his face against her chest. "You've pulled this one before, remember, when you were up against Haku. I'm not falling for the same thing again, Sasuke. Open your eyes."
"Sakura… you're heavy."
Back then, he had smiled as he was now. There was no mistaking the look in his eyes. Uchiha Sasuke was at peace; serene as a monk gone to God.
She wasn't quite sure how she got there, but when she woke up after hours of calling Sasuke's name, Sakura was back in Konoha's hospital. Naruto was sitting next to the bed, one of his knees propped up on the chair. His arms were folded together over it and his head was buried between them, as though he was ignoring something, like a little child.
"… Naruto?" Sakura whispered, not finding the strength to do anything more.
He looked up, his cerulean eyes blood-shot and his nose red. Naruto looked bewildered for a brief moment, before focussing on her face. He tried to smile, but it was a fluke. Instead of the broad grin that belonged to him, all she could see was a shadow of a smile.
"You're awake," he said, voice barely more than a whisper as well.
"I fixed everything," Naruto said simply.
There were no more words necessary. Everything she felt right then and there was reflected in Naruto's eyes. Though she had loved Sasuke, and knew that Sasuke cared about her, the bond between Naruto and Sasuke was much stronger. They weren't just best friends; they were brothers. Not in the same connection Itachi and Sasuke were, because Sakura doubted that anyone could be like Itachi in that aspect, but certainly there was a strong bond between the two of them.
"S… Sorry," Sakura said hoarsely.
Naruto frowned slightly. "For what?"
"I wasn't there in time," Sakura said, smiling. "I was too late."
"Don't," Naruto said, shaking his head as he moved from the chair to the bed. He wrapped his arms around Sakura and hugged her closely. "Don't blame yourself for this. We saw this coming. We all knew Sasuke have his way one day."
"But I don't understand…" Sakura said, nearly hysterical by now. "I've had so many years of practice. I'm a good medic kunoichi. Then why couldn't I help him? Why couldn't I see what was wrong with him?"
"Sasuke essentially killed himself," Naruto whispered, holding her closer. "He apparently used real lightning to fuel a Chidori and that's what ended him. Too much chakra, more than he could possibly handle. He burned himself from the inside."
"Remind me to do something to Kakashi-sensei for teaching him that technique in the first place," Sakura commented quietly. Naruto chuckled softly.
Though she had been joking, there was a serious tone in her voice as well. Chidori was one of the worst techniques she had ever seen. Even though Rasengan perhaps exceeded the damage that one could do to another, Chidori also had the double edged sword. Chidori was used on both Naruto and Sai when they saw Sasuke for the first time in nearly three years. It was almost used on Naruto on a hospital roof and now it was the cause of Sasuke and Itachi's deaths.
Part of her wanted to strangle Kakashi for ever teaching such a dangerous and vile technique to anybody.
Naruto was crying by now, his laughter long gone. He was holding on to Sakura, her shirt clenched in his hands as he wept like a child, using her shoulder for support. Sakura was glad for the numb feeling that had settled inside of her, enabling her to be there for Naruto without being an emotional wreck herself.
She wanted to tell him everything; about Sasuke and Itachi's battle and how unjust it was. How Itachi was actually a good guy and that their battle and the years of bottled hatred were all for nothing. But what would happen to Naruto if she told him?
Revenge, of course. Naruto was not one for revenge, but when it came to either her or Sasuke, Naruto would be the kind of person who would want to set the score right. Just thinking about it made her choke up and she pressed him closer to her.
Kakashi chose that moment to enter the room and all thoughts about strangling him were forgotten as Sakura noticed the heartbreaking look in his eye. There was no use in lecturing him about it; Kakashi had definitely learned his lesson.
Wordlessly, Kakashi stepped closer towards the bed and placed his hands on both Naruto and her head in a somewhat comforting gesture.
All Sakura could do was cry.
She wasn't sure why, but after the hospital had released her, the first place she went to, rather than her own house, was the Uchiha district.
It was abandoned long ago, and nobody dared to come near it, saying it was haunted. It was a good thing it was built near the border of Konoha, rather squashed into a corner of the grand city. The wooden gates were closed, but as she moved to open them, they slid open without much effort.
"Sasuke, of course," she whispered as she stepped inside the district.
Though the sounds of downtown Konoha could be heard everywhere, it seemed as if the Uchiha district drowned out the sounds. The silence was mind-blowing and there mere fact that she was standing on the grounds where a massacre had taken place was enough to have her shivering violently.
It still felt as if she were standing in the middle of a mass grave.
Though it was her second time there, Sakura couldn't help but feel uncomfortable as she tried to look around. Sasuke had taken her into the Uchiha district through the southern entrance. The one she picked was the closest one to the hospital, the east one, but she was sure that she could find the main house back.
The feeling that she was trespassing did not subside and only grew stronger as she wandered deeper and deeper into the Uchiha district. Her instincts seemed to guide her into the right way as the next street she walked into was familiar. Sakura glanced around, observing the perimeter until she saw the house that belonged to Sasuke's family, the stratches on the metal plate beside the door.
Sakura fetched one of her senbon from her pouch with a tiny smile and with greatest effort managed to scribble Itachi's name back onto the nameplate. It seemed like the least she could do right now.
Satisfied with her handiwork, she put the senbon back into place and slid the door to the main house open. Her hands touched the wall, wondering where the light switch was as she recalled Sasuke clicking it on from somewhere close to the door.
The light went on as she hit the switch and illuminated the dark house. With the same feeling of discomfort did Sakura walk out of the hallway and followed the exact same route Sasuke had taken her on, going outside towards the porch. This time around however, Sakura stopped at the pond, watching the reflections of the scant few clouds ripple across the water's surface.
She stood still for a while, pondering about how Sasuke might have sat here to watch the sunsets. Perhaps Itachi would have been beside him and they would have had their short, brotherly moments.
Sakura continued on her way, entering the room Sasuke had led her into and looked around. To the right was the door he didn't want her to enter. Even now, she had no urge to go inside and see what it was.
Instead, she did something worse and turned into the room that Sasuke had disappeared in. As she slid it open, it revealed an old staircase that led upstairs.
With every step she made, the floors creaked, making her flinch over and over as Sakura walked up the stairs towards the next hallway.
It was a small hallway, with only two doors. Her hands trailed past the walls, finding no switch for this particular area. Making due with the scant moonlight, Sakura walked towards the first door she could see, peering to see the name written in kanji on it.
She traced the name on the wood, resting her hand against the rough texture. With a short smile, she opened the door, knowing fully that the room would be empty, courtesy of Sasuke, of course.
But when she opened the door, her mouth almost fell open in shock. Whereas Sasuke had scratched away his brother's name from the front door, Itachi's room seemed to be left alone. Her hands moved along the wall automatically and turned on the light switch as she found it.
It was a large room, but mostly empty. A bed stood near the window on the right and right next to it was a desk. There was a bookcase and a pile of scrolls, all neatly stacked up in a corner. In the open closet to the left were several dark Uchiha shirts, as well as what seemed like a yukata in Uchiha colors, an ANBU cape that had never been used and a Chuunin uniform.
As Sakura turned around, she saw a large version of the world map hanging on the wall opposite of the bed. His window showed a view of a large pond behind their house and a small dock.
It was your average room. And yet, to her, it was incredibly calming to be there. As if Itachi's presence was still there somehow, his protective spirit still watching over the now completely empty Uchiha manor.
No more Uchiha left. The only thing remnant of the once so mighty clan was one eye, embedded in the skull of a Hatake. And Uchiha Madara.
She shook in silent rage, knowing that she had to go to Tsunade soon and explain everything that Itachi had told her. Sasuke was dead, he would never know, but the rest of Konoha had a right to know who the true instigator of the massacre was. She would make sure that Itachi's name would be on the Heroes Memorial as well.
Sighing softly, Sakura stepped back out of the room and walked towards the opposite room, knowing fully well what name would be spelled out there. Similarly, she traced the kanji for Sasuke's name and rested her hand against it, as if his name made him more tangible.
When she opened the door, Sakura cried.
The first thing she smelled, above anything else, was the strong scent of fire and rain.
How long had it been since he was there last? When did they embark on that damning mission that had killed Sasuke and his older brother, while all they were supposed to to was head over to Sand and explain everything to Gaara?
She turned the lights on and found a room so similar to Itachi's that it wouldn't surprise her if Sasuke had looked at Itachi's room for furnishing ideas. She could imagine Sasuke sitting on his bed, reading one of his scrolls, or him sitting in the windowframe as he always seemed to do when he needed to think things over.
It seemed like a lifetime ago that he stood in front of her during the meeting, groggy and annoyed by the cat call. His usually perfect, spiked up hair was just a tad in disarray and his eyes, though alert, betraying the slight hints of sleepless nights. But even then, Sasuke had always been a comforting presence to her. Even when she hadn't yet realized that he was more than a crush, more than a knight on a white horse.
Still crying, Sakura moved to the bed, where the smell was strongest and crouched down beside it. She gripped the sheets in her quivering hands and brought them to her face, finding comfort in the way his scent surrounded her completely.
"Sasuke," she whispered to the dark room. Any time now, Sasuke could walk into this room, scowl at her for being in his most precious sanctuary and throw her out. She knew that had to be the case because she had lived in a world without Sasuke for years before and it was a world Sakura couldn't possibly return to. Not now; not after just getting him back.
It was too cruel to be true.
"You've become a good kunoichi Sakura."
The sobbing continued until dawn came. The sky started to transform into a myriad of colors; crimson, peach, green and blue hues coated the cloudless sky.
When Sakura finally tore herself away from Sasuke's bed, she retucked the sheets, not wanting everything to be disordered and looked around the room. There was some paper on the desk, something hastily scribbled on it, as well as some books scattered around the floor and some of the scrolls were unrolled.
With a smile, Sakura stepped to the desk, her gaze moving over the piece of paper until one word on it caught her attention.
"Mange…kyou?" Sakura said softly, picking up the piece of paper. Her eyes widened as she quickly read the note.
"In order to receive Mangekyou, one must kill the one closest to him."
The words were clear, the pen had gone through the paper due to the sheer force that had been behind the writing. Underneath the sentence however, were more disturbing words. All of them were written by Sasuke, though the first sentence did not resemble his handwriting at all.
In Sasuke's handwriting, it said:
"Itachi said closest friend (the word 'friend' was encircled several times). Itachi killed Shishui. Was not alone during massacre. Must have had help."
"Was NOT alone."
"Crying? Or just part of my imagination?"
"Itachi was crying."
"I have to measure his container. Revenge. But he was crying. Left me alive."
Several other things had been written down, but Sasuke had crossed them all through. Though she peered at the paper, it was impossible to read exactly what it said.
Sakura sighed and turned over the paper, not expecting to find anything. But two tiny sentences had been written on the back and Sakura felt all of her blood draining away from her face as she read it over and over again.
"Overheard Koharu and Homura talking about massacre. Konoha ordered Itachi to do it."
"Konoha…" Sakura whispered, shocked to her very core. "Why would Konoha…"
Uchiha. Sakura closed her eyes, thinking about the books she had read about the foundation of Konoha; how the Hashirama clan and the Uchiha clan had fought against one another for many years and how Hashirama finally founded Konoha together with Uchiha, but had banned them to a corner of the village.
"Retribution? More than a hundred years later…? But Itachi said it was Madara…"
"Was NOT alone."
Sakura stumbled back until she hit Sasuke's bed and sat down on it, still clenching the note in her hand as she re-read the couple of sentences over and over again. It didn't make sense; Sasuke was the type of man that would want revenge. If Konoha ordered Itachi to kill the clan than surely Sasuke would be going after those responsible…
… Unless there was a reason for the slaughter.
Even though her curiosity had not been sated by far, because the note revealed some important things about the night of the massacre, such as Itachi's tears… one of the greatest mysteries that was bugging her right now was why Sasuke didn't stop chasing Itachi.
"He knew Itachi wasn't responsible, why do it anyway?" Sakura whispered, confused.
And then, as if Sasuke was standing next to her, she could almost hear his reasoning. Of course he would kill Itachi; whether he was responsible or not had nothing to do with the fact that Itachi was the one that killed his clan. Itachi was the one who had raised a katana towards his parents and who had mentally scarred Sasuke for the rest of his life.
But that knowledge would also come with the fact that his brother might have chosen the right thing to do. Konoha didn't order massacres like these; it was the first time it had ever happened. So there had to be a good reason. One good enough for Itachi to kill his entire family save for his brother and stimulate him for revenge.
"You were… commiting suicide alongside with Itachi," Sakura said, disbelief coloring her voice as she finally puzzled the last pieces of the enigma called Sasuke together. "That's why you went overboard. Itachi would have never killed you, not after everything he had done to keep you alive. You just couldn't bear living with the knowledge that you killed your brother, that you were equal in Itachi by killing family."
"I have an ambition. The revival of my clan… and the death of a certain man."
It was never 'and'. It was 'or'. Either Sasuke would move on from the slaughter and start a new Uchiha clan, or he would die together with Itachi.
With that new discovery came one more. "We were never enough," she whispered to the empty room. "Naruto and I were never enough… were we, Sasuke-kun?"
And so she wept.
Sundown was nearing when she reached the Heroes Memorial.
Sakura took out her precious senbon one more time as she circled around the stone and picked out a spot that looked like it would never be used. Smiling softly, she carved both the names of Itachi and Sasuke on it. It was tiny, but their names would be on the memorial now, and that was all that mattered.
Crouching down in front of the memorial, Sakura searched her pockets and found the Akatsuki ring that belonged to Itachi, and a small picture of Sasuke that she had found lying somewhere in her room.
Wistfully, she smiled at both items.
Mementos of two of the most extraordinary men she had ever known.
One so devoted to his village that he willingly slaughtered his clan, except for his little brother. Then, in order to protect Sasuke, he had developed a huge lie that would have worked, if Sasuke hadn't overheard the conversation between Koharu and Homura.
One so devoted to his clan that he willingly sacrificed everything for revenge. His parents and family were dead, they weren't coming back. The decision to kill the clan hadn't even been Itachi's. But even so, there was nothing he wouldn't do for the memory of his clan.
Two men, both larger than life.
She had a year and two months toghether with Sasuke. Less than two weeks with Itachi.
And somehow, it had to suffice for a lifetime.
A/N: I'm SO getting lynched for this ending, haha. Sorry guys.
Memento is incredibly hard for me to write, because it's a pretty hard story. More so than it focusses on the crush of Sakura on Itachi (whether it's reciprocated… I'll leave that up to you!) it focusses between the botherly bonds of Itachi and Sasuke.
I see them both as extraordinary men and I think Sakura, should she ever find out about Itachi's truth, will think the same. As for Sasuke in this piece; honestly, this is the Sasuke I've always had in mind and have always loved. Perhaps it doesn't agree with recent manga developments, but it's still the Sasuke I had in mind when first writing this piece over two years ago!
I hope you all enjoyed it!
-- Mitsuki Shiroi