Here's the next one. It's another short one, but it's a much sooner update, so I'm still proud of myself!
Your Standard Disclaimer: Naruto is the sole property of Masashi Kishimoto. He is the masta, so be sure to respect his awesome-a powers of... storytelling-a. Ahem.
"And then everything was burning. Death and destruction encompassed me, as war tore the one place I loved apart. I knew a new emotion then, one they call sorrow."
Brotherhood, Part 2
Thirty-six hours later.
The trek home from Wave had taken much shorter than it had arriving. Tazuna was no longer with them, so the three conscious shinobi could move with ease and quickness through the trees. Kakashi hoisted the wounded Yoshirou over his shoulder, while Sasuke and Sakura shared the burden of Naruto. The two genin were sweating however, a result of Naruto's somehow inhuman body heat he released even unconsciously. Upon reaching the Konoha gates, they were greeted with something totally unexpected.
Debris and scorched, dented trees littered the immediate area surrounding the open gates to the village. There was a single pool of blood that clogged and choked the dirt path leading to the massive doors. It looked to be a war-zone. Team 7 slowed down considerably, taking it all in.
"What happened here?" Sakura wondered, confounded. Her two conscious teammates said nothing, Sasuke giving the area a mere glimpse of attention and Kakashi surveying the multiple injured trees and the blood splotch with an analytical eye.
"An ambush, however unlikely this close to Konoha itself, is entirely possible. Be on guard entering the village, you two," the sensei ordered. Sasuke grunted, Sakura nodded.
Half expecting to see a full-fledged battle upon entering the village, the three were mystified and somehow relieved by the normal calmness they encountered. People walked to-and-fro, shopkeepers announced their products, a few children chased each other down the street under the watchful eyes of a parent or two. Some even seemed happier. Indeed, multiple older citizens looked to have had a great weight lifted off their shoulders, a reminder to a horrible event cut loose at long last.
The ANBU appearing a foot in front of them, however, was not expected in the least.
"Uchiha Sasuke is requested by the Hokage for a private meeting. Please head there immediately." His message delivered, the elite disappeared in a swirl of leaves. Sasuke looked towards his sensei for confirmation of his dismissal. Kakashi nodded slowly. Shifting his weight, the boy released his grip on Naruto, leaving Sakura to bear the full weight of the blond. Sasuke leaped onto the rooftops, speeding away towards the central building of Konoha.
Sighing, Kakashi turned towards his remaining student. "Come on, Sakura. Let's get these two to the hospital before they lose anymore blood." He started a brisk pace.
"R-Right," she stuttered, mildly surprised at Sasuke's sudden summoning. And with that, they headed off.
At long last, the meeting Hiruzen absolutely dreaded had arrived. He had been practicing for this, even before Itachi's death. He had hoped beyond hope that he would not be the Hokage when this meeting took place, but, well, sometimes life was cruel.
There was a knock on the door once, twice, and the esteemed Hokage fought the intense urge to slam his head against the desk.
"Come in, Sasuke-kun."
Silently the door opened, and just as silently the Last Uchiha – oh, the horrible, horrible irony – strode in and stood in front of the leader of the village.
"Please, sit down. This will take a while." Sasuke could hear the weariness laced in those words, and even as he took a seat wondered if he had done anything wrong.
The Hokage didn't continue, and Sasuke didn't feel like speaking either. So they stayed like that for a good while, the air laced with one-sided tension and trepidation. It seemed like the miniscule world inside that office had been captured in a picture, detailing the whole environs as it was before the world collapsed around a single human being. Before the shit hit the fan.
Finally, at long last, the Hokage took a long, weary breath, and spoke.
"I'm going to be blunt, Sasuke," he started, "because I know you hate it when people mince their words around you."
Sasuke nodded. The Hokage straightened his posture, moved his hands from in front of his face and intertwined them on the desk.
"Uchiha Itachi is dead."
The world froze again, this time framing the instant a young twelve-year-old boy learned his life suddenly had no meaning. And then – life.
"What? You're kidding, right?" The first stage of a breakdown. Denial.
"Sasuke, I would dare not speak lies about something like this."
"That... no. No, Itachi wouldn't die that easily. It was probably some sort of genjutsu so the guy looked like him."
"The medical examiner confirmed his identity."
"But that bastard was supposed to stay alive until I killed him!" Anger.
"Sasuke," the Hokage spoke. His tone was grittier, colder.
"He had the audacity to go and die after he fucks my life over and tells me to go after him?"
"Is my life even worth anything anymore?" Hopelessness.
"UCHIHA SASUKE!" the Hokage roared. Sasuke looked up in stunned silence, finally brought out of his desperate tirade. "Listen to me, because what I have to tell you will change your views on everything. Will you be quiet until then?" Sasuke could only nod his head dumbly, although he looked close to collapsing out of sheer mental fatigue already.
Quickly, Sarutobi flashed through several handseals. The walls flashed with a dull light before returning to their original color.
"That was a silencing jutsu. An ANBU locked the door behind you after you entered. Look at me, Sasuke," the old man ordered, forcing Sasuke to meet his eyes. "What I am about to tell you is an S-classed village secret. It, under absolutely no circumstances, leaves this room without my direct permission. The consequences for breaking this rule are severe and immediate. Do you understand?" The man's eyes were cold and direct, showing the truth behind the words. Sasuke nodded hesitantly.
The Hokage took a steadying breath. "Five years ago, the Uchiha planned a coup de etat to overthrow village leadership. Konoha had been growing weary of them because certain elements suspected an Uchiha controlled the Kyuubi when it attacked twelve years ago. Yes, that is possible, and has happened before."
Sasuke opened his mouth to speak, but Sarutobi held up a silencing hand. "Let me continue," he spoke. "I tried to talk Danzou and the councilmen out of it, but they would have none of my so-called 'weakness'. Itachi was supposed to be the Uchiha's inside man in the ANBU. When the coup occurred, he was meant to cause chaos and disrupt the movement of the ANBU while the Military Police secured all vital governing assets in Konoha."
He paused, taking a breath. "In reality, Itachi was a double agent, working for Konoha," he said, sighing. "Sasuke, your brother was a pacifist. You know what that is, correct?"
The young genin managed to work himself out of his mental daze quick enough to answer. "Y-Yes, it's someone who loves peace and hates any kind of violence."
"Your brother grew up during the Third Shinobi War," Hiruzen said, sighing, "Even before he entered the Academy, he had already been subjected to all sorts of loss of life and the repercussions of violence. Moving on, though, Danzou and the more radical elements of the Council eventually grew tired of my peace talks and simply ordered Itachi to wipe the clan out." He paused and looked the shocked Sasuke dead in the eyes, as if he was peering into his very soul and heart.
"Sasuke, Itachi didn't kill you because he thought you weren't worth it. He didn't kill you because, above all else, Itachi loved you. His mission as specified by the Council was to kill every Uchiha clan member. That included you. Itachi spared you because he simply couldn't and because he cared for you more than anyone else.
"After the clan was wiped out, Itachi came to me and begged for me to protect you from Danzou and the Council, who would rather have you dead. Then he left as a traitor, infamous for slaughtering one of the most powerful clans in one night."
"Then why did he tell me all those things? That I was weak and pathetic and wasn't even worth his blade?" Sasuke all but screamed, obviously confused and boggled by this sudden information.
"Itachi wanted you to kill him," Hiruzen spoke softly. Sasuke's eyes rose in shock. "Your part in his plan, Sasuke, was to kill him and become the hero of Konoha, thus redeeming the Uchiha name. You were supposed to wipe the slate clean."
Seeing the look in Sasuke's eyes, the Hokage knew the conversation was finished for now. "I will give you the rest of the day to digest all of this," he spoke, "If you have any more questions, feel free to come back tomorrow, Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke nodded and rose numbly from his seat. He left through the door, closed it softly behind him, and was gone.
The old man sighed. Sasuke was obviously shocked, overloaded with information. How could he not be? His life had essentially just been flipped upside down and spun around a good hundred times. Poor child, he sighed mentally. That brought up another thought, however. I heard Naruto-kun was hospitalized today. I should pay him a visit. Rising from his seat and squaring his shoulders, Sarutobi Hiruzen left his office and began the journey to the hospital.
Just another day as the Hokage.
This place seemed so foreign. A place shrouded in lies, deceit, villainy. He absently wondered which room they had done the plotting in. His whole house was really an option. His father – no, the man didn't deserve such a title – Fugaku, was the head of the clan. The man who raised him also planted the seeds of rebellion in the clan. It was his father's fault his life was so screwed up!
...certain elements suspected an Uchiha controlled the Kyuubi when it attacked twelve years ago.
All but sprinting to his clan's old central library, Sasuke tried to remember everything he knew about the lore his parents use to tell him at his bedside. They said an Uchiha was once able to control the beast. What was his name? It started with an 'M'... Madichu, Madaka?
He kept testing out names until he reached the bookshelf in the far back of the room. Rifling quickly through the dust and grime – he mentally grimaced and made a note to do some serious cleaning after this – Sasuke threw book after book from their places until he found what he was looking for.
Uchiha Lore and History: A Documentary
He flipped to the beginning of the book detailing the clan's founding, sneezing once as the dust assaulted his face.
Legend has it that the Uchiha clan was founded by Uchiha Madara, a man of unparalleled strength and ability. He was known to have control over the legendary Kyuubi no Yoko.
Bingo! he thought.
Madara-sama lived during the reign of the Shodai Hokage, Senju Hashirama.
Sasuke let loose a loud curse. The man was obviously dead. If he was of the era of the Shodai, he had been living a century ago, maybe more.
Uchiha Madara also appeared to have an advanced form of the Mangekyou Sharingan.
Advanced form? Wasn't that kind of redundant? The Mangekyou was the advanced form of the Sharingan. Curious, Sasuke flipped to the index in the back of the book, sneezing yet again as dust was removed from its resting place.
Sharingan, subsection M for Mangekyou... subsection E? Eternal Mangekyou? Sasuke stared at the words blankly for a moment, their hidden meaning not registering in his brain. Page 241. He almost tore the pages from their bindings, he turned the pages so quickly. He reached page 241 and...
There were no words. The page was blank.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," he ground out.
Think, think. The Uchiha were a clever, xenophobic bunch. The worst thing imaginable was for big clan secrets to be exposed to outsiders. What did they have that no-one... else... had...?
Sasuke would have facepalmed if both his hands weren't firmly gripping the book. He took a moment to get back on track, then activated his Sharingan. Words sprung to life on the page.
Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan: the highest form of the Sharingan. After going blind from overuse of the normal Mangekyou, the transplanting of another Mangekyou user's eyes – preferably someone with strong blood ties to the other user – will restore the vision of the first user and let them achieve the Eternal Mangekyou. The user will now be able to use Mangekyou jutsu without their vision being negatively impacted. The Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan also greatly expands the user's lifespan, rivaling eternal life.
Sasuke paused, and reread the last sentence a good five times. His mind blank, he used his finger as a placeholder for the page and flipped back to the section on Madara.
Uchiha Madara was banished from Konohagakure no Sato after doing battle with Senju Hashirama. He felt the Uchiha were unjustly treated by the Senju clan, their rivals, who at that time ruled over Konoha. The rest of the clan did not agree with him, and so banished him from their ranks. It is assumed that Uchiha Madara died soon afterwards in an unknown location.
Sasuke closed the book, knowing the last sentence was complete and utter bullshit. This man, Madara, was probably responsible for the Kyuubi's attack on Konoha, and as a direct result the Uchiha massacre. Uchiha Madara was the reason his family plotted a coup, the reason his brother had to sacrifice himself, and the reason he grew up alone.
You were supposed to wipe the slate clean.
It was now Uchiha Sasuke's duty, as the last loyal clan-member, to kill Madara and fulfill his brother's request. He would kill the man, avenge his clan, and rebuild the Uchiha as the new cornerstone of the Konoha society. He would do this different than Itachi. Sasuke was not stupid: he knew, from reading about Madara's abilities, that he was far, far out of his league. He would definitely need help.
He replayed his previous behavior, how he acted around everyone. A frown marred his pristine features. That type of brooding would not be suitable anymore. If he wanted to change the clan and wipe the slate clean, like Itachi wanted, he would need to first change the way Konoha viewed the clan. And the clan was him. It was time to set some examples.
Rising from the ground, leaving the disheveled heap of books behind him, Sasuke turned and exited first the library, then the Uchiha grounds.
He needed to visit Naruto.
So, as we can see, this chapter was basically character development, character development, and some more character development.
It is of my opinion that Sarutobi never really got anything to show for his titles in canon. So I gave him a reason to be called "The Professor". This is a basic contrast of canon, where Madara molds Sasuke after the truth behind Itachi and the Massacre are revealed. This time, it is Sarutobi doing the molding, though very subtle.
Remember, reviews have a direct correlation to faster update times! It's a proven fact! And thanks to everyone that reviewed last chapter, as well. You guys are awesome.