title: how heroes are made

summery: It's been too long and he's forgotten, but in the end it makes no difference. – Sasuke

pairing: Team Seven

note: Go listen to Superchick's Hero (Red Pill Mix). Now.

word count: 711

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+how heroes are made

i.

It is a lesson learned by every small child that passes through the academy. Drilled through their heads while they are still sparkling, white, whimsical and so disastrously pure, it stays with them until that very last, blood-rattled breath. Afterall, it is the things they want most.

Because that's the only reason any child would - could - choose the life of a ninja.

To be a hero.

ii.

Sasuke wanted to be a hero, once. But by the time anyone was willing to tell him how, he was past gold gilded dreams and fairy-dusted hopes. By then, all he wanted was the burning agony of revenge and final justice. So he doesn't pay attention, not really, when the stories begin and his classmates clamber about. The blonde one especially - he really wants to be a hero.

While innocent minds play out fantasies of hope and strength and courage, Sasuke goes through jutsus and battle plans and pictures exactly what face Itachi will make as he gasps out the truth about why he did what he did.

iii.

Sasuke doesn't care about being a hero.

So when he stands over the fallen body of Naruto, he's not thinking about friendship or duty or honor or any of those other frivolities he once coveted like the holy grail.

No, he's thinking about how pale the blonde's face is beneath the whiskers; about how the rain is mixing with the blood and the puddles are turning pink and how mad Sakura and Kakashi would be if he killed Naruto. He doesn't want all of Kohona even angrier than the will already be, does he?

And besides, lies a little voice Sasuke pretends to believe, you might not care enough for it to work.

Walking away, it never occurs to him that it could have gone another way.

iv.

Sasuke doesn't believe in heroes.

Sound has done that for him. Sound has done a lot for him. It has hardened his heart and crippled his soul and dirtied his mind and killed him, a bit.

So he isn't thinking about justice and right and wrong and this has gone too far as he picks up his sword and sets out to kill a snake. He is thinking about power and red eyes swirling, about weakness and his own formidable strength. Mostly, he is thinking that Orochimaru is a fool to thing the (soon to be) last Uchiha would sacrifice himself for a few measly tricks.

And maybe, just maybe, he's remembering the high, keening screams that echo in the halls around Kabutos's lab. Possibly, in the very farthest thread of his thoughts, an emaciated slave woman with a pregnant belly in charge of bringing his dinner looks at him through round, green eyes that terrify him with their familiarly.

Maybe it is these (real) truths that drive his sword and power his every devastating blow.

v.

Sasuke doesn't remember the difference between heroes and monsters anymore.

But he does know that he's a failure most certain and most dreadful, because he's letting these bonds and these ties and this heart get the best of him again. The eyes - the big, green, I'll love you forever! and the wide, bright believe it! eyes - are on him and he's crumbling under the weight of everything they mean. They shout at him, scream at him, shatter and break before him and his dreadful power and he is suddenly sure that he cannot - no matter his bravado, no matter his hate - do this. Not to them. It's too quick to comprehend, that second he whirls around and stands against the cloaks that match his own. Drawing his weapon and setting his eyes swirling, he doesn't have time to think about love and trust and forever and ever and ever. So he doesn't.

Rather, he thinks about how hard he'll have to fight to get them out of this alive. He's better at that sort of stuff anyway.

vi.

Sasuke is too tired to think about heroes.

Instead, he thinks about Naruto and Sakura and how much lighter he feels with them dragging him back to certain punishment most brutal and - he'll admit, oh, he'll admit - deserved.

vii.

Sasuke doesn't care about heroes. But if ever did, he might be able to recall that first lesson, given so very long ago.

Heroes are made with a choice.

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completed: 9/28/08

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note:I am a silly, foolish girl with high, high hopes for Sasuke. Because I still believe him to be redeemable. Really. I honestly cannot see him killing Naruto and Sakura or even letting someone else kill them. Anywayz, I'll still love him. And - not that you care - there are seven because seven is (duh) the magic number and (duh) Sasuke needs all the magic he can get. For realz.