Written by Lady Red 2009
It's a fact that at one point in our lives, each of us will look back upon the past and wish we could do it all over. As human beings, it's just the way we are…having regrets that is.
I was eight the first time I really regretted something. I wanted to go back and save them. I didn't want to be alone but it was because of that regret that I chose to be alone. It took me a long time to realise I regretted that too but then again we're all stupid like that.
That realisation that I regretted my loneliness didn't dawn on me until it was too late. Too late for me any way. I'm just glad I don't have to add another regret to the pile though.
"OI! Sasuke! WHAT THE HELL TEME?"
Naruto's voice has always been impossibly loud to me. Drowning out my thoughts, interrupting my moody contemplations. But it's soft now and far away. The pain is all consuming and I can barely focus on anything. Some people describe near death experiences as if the pain feels far away but it's strangling my body and mind so badly it's all I can think about.
I can't see: my vision is white.
I can't hear: Naruto's terrified words are fading away.
I can't think: the fire in my chest is all encompassing.
But I can smell though and the blood only adds to the strangulation of the pain. And I can feel – oh how badly I wish I couldn't.
I'm not stupid, any half decent shinobi knows when this is it, when they've finally reached the point of no return and I have become a very good shinobi. My death is imminent and strangely, I'm not sad. I've lived a long life, for a shinobi anyway and I know it's been enough for me. I've suffered more, hurt more than anyone else I've ever known except for him.
Naruto knew loneliness long before me and no matter how tired I am and grateful for the fact that my pain will soon be at an end, I find the time to marvel that Naruto's still going even after everything.
Our teacher is dead, our teammate horribly changed from the beautiful person we once knew and our home in ruins. Naruto still doesn't know the answer to the question Pein put to him and he still doesn't realise the true danger Madara represents.
But I know the last part will hurt him the most: because it's far too late to save me now. But if there's one regret I don't have to carry with me it's that he'll live because I did something to make sure he would, even though it cost me my own life.
My chest aches – the sword isn't there anymore. Naruto took it out but he can't help me, not even Sakura can. The wound will continue to suck my chakra until I die. That's just the kind of cruel thing Madara does. If Sakura touches me, she's done for and she knows it. Despite my pain, I grip her small wrist in my hand with every last ounce of strength I have. Somehow I have to stop her. I can't let her die for me: never again can I let another do that for me.
"Don't!" I hiss.
Her hot tears pelt against my skin and I realise how cold I am.
"But Sasuke - !"
I can't see her but my grip tightens.
"It's too late…you'll never…" gasp "be able to stop the technique."
Naruto again. I feel him moving about near my chest and I shove him off. I can't even summon the energy to scream from the agony that races through my system with the movement.
I gasp and pant pathetically and fall weakly to one side, away from them. What little strength I had is gone. The technique will get me before I bleed out but that doesn't mean the physical wound isn't taking its toll.
"You can't…save me…but you should…know that when I saved you…from Haku that time…it was because I couldn't…let another" gasp "precious person ever die…before my eyes…ever again."
That short sentence takes almost everything I have but I plough on regardless. I haven't got much longer and I know there'll never be enough time to say all the things I meant to say to them so I have to make these last words count.
"Live your life…Naruto…and become the Hokage. Protect your friends and don't ever…blame yourself for this. I chose this…understand? I chose to do this to save you. It's not…your fault…"
Naruto's voice cracks and for the second time, I'm the cause of the only tears I've ever seen him shed.
"You're such a bastard. You never made any sense to me you dumb arse. I understood what you felt like and yet you just kept being a stubborn idiot and doing what you did for no reason I could ever understand."
Naruto laughs pitifully to himself and I can almost feel him itching to take my hand but I can't allow it. Not if he wants to undo everything I've just done for him.
A loud crack sounds overhead and the skies finally open up. A storm has been brewing all afternoon and now it breaks over us. The water drenches me within moments and my blood only spills from my chest faster in the heavy deluge. It revives me just a little though, the feel of the cool water against my own cool skin. My vision clears a bit and I can make out blurs of colour around me. The orange of Naruto's jacket and the red of Sakura's dress stand out starkly amongst all the grey. They're in front of me again, I didn't even sense them move.
"That's why," I say. "That's why you shouldn't regret my death…Naruto. I regretted my family's…and look…where it got me. I couldn't…ever let…it go."
My last words seem to trigger something and my body pulses with raw agony in response. My muscles tense and I want to scream but I can't. When it finally fades I discover my vision has darkened by half and Naruto and Sakura are hovering dangerously close. My chakra's nearly gone and I've only got the chance to say one more thing before I'm sucked dry. There are a million things I can think of but only one I really need to say to them.
"Forgive me…" I murmur, "and then forget me…"
"Sasuke? What are you saying?" Sakura asks. "As if we ever could. Forget you that is."
I smile weakly. Same old Sakura.
"And as for forgiven, there never was anything to forgive."
I can't see them any more. My vision is completely black now. "How utterly stupid," I say softly.
They reach for me then; they can't stop themselves and I can't either. It's too late. I'm already gone before I even feel their hands upon my broken body.
Live I think and be the good people I know you are since I lacked the strength to be.
Author's Note: You can consider this a one shot but there's more to come. This is actually going to be a Bleach crossover.
Till then, ja ne!