Author's Note: It was going to be one final interlude, but I'm going to have to make it two. Please note that I started this story pre-timeskip, so Sasuke's sentiments here don't reflect the ones he has in the anime/manga, nor do the characters' abilities, etc.
VICIOUS SPOILERS- I actually just read the last few Naruto chapters. First of all, wow. So much drama! I'm afraid I'm turning into a NaruHina fan! I'm especially loving Naruto, Tsunade, Gaara, and Orochimaru's roles in the story. I appreciated the homage Kishimoto paid to DragonBall Z and Yu Yu Hakusho in the beast names, very sweet. I loved how the battle with Kabuto was full of homosexual innuendo. And am I the only one who finds Madara incredibly sexy, and secretly wants him to win? –nosebleed- Also, one question- if someone bites Naruto, will they be instantly healed as he moans erotically? Or does this only apply to Uzumakis who have been experimented on? I don't care, Sasuke needs to join the battle already and give it a try!
And chapter 619 came out this morning. I – can't- I just – can't express how great that chapter was!
On another note, if you ever want to break my heart, just send me pictures of Lee crying. D: (Or pictures of genin-Gai. That'll work too!)
The Chaos Theory
by Bullwinkle's Lady
Neji stood in front of the classroom dressed in the standard chunnin uniform. Naruto-san had advised him years ago that academy students had weak emotional faculties and would likely be intimidated if he came to work in his ANBU armor.
"The Hokage line is littered with professional, but also familial ties. The first, the Shodai, was Senju Hashirama, and the second was his brother, Senju Tobirama. The third was a little before your time – Sarutobi Hiruzen, who was a student of Nidaime's."
At his desk, Sarutobi Asuma looked up from whispering to Yamashiro Mei, his crimson eyes alight with curiosity.
"To continue, we must get into the students of the third: Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru. These three were known as the legendary sannin for the better part of their lives. The fourth Hokage was a student of sannin Jiraiya's. His name was Namikaze Minato. The fifth was sannin Tsunade and granddaughter of the first. The sixth Hokage, as you know, is Hatake Kakashi, student of the fourth. Our newest Kage was appointed only in the past five years – son of the forth and student of Rokudaime: Uzumaki Naruto. Next in line to succeed him-"
Neji glanced at door to spot Naruto, and raised an eyebrow. "Ten years back from raping snakes in some backwater, and you'd entrust him with the village?"
Naruto frowned as the classroom giggled.
Neji returned his attention to the class. "As you know, the former subordinates of Rokudaime's: Uzumaki-sama and his teammates Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Sasuke – each took tutelage from Jiraiya, Tsunade, and disgraced sannin, Orochimaru, at some point in their lives. Some are calling them the new sannin. Unbeknownst to Shichidaime-sama-" he gestured to Naruto. "-Uchiha Sasuke is not in line. The best candidate is Haruno Sakura, followed by Shichidaime's protégé, granted his meets the expectations the village elders have for him. You're dismissed."
As the clutter of ten-year-olds gathered their things and began to filter out, Neji turned back to Naruto. "Hokage-sama," he greeted him.
Naruto uncrossed his arms and entered the room. "You're wrong. It's Sasuke."
"Are you anticipating your retirement?"
"What can I do for you?" Neji took a seat behind his desk and riffled through papers. It was progress report season, and as with the previous few years, he had to figure out how to put the incompetence of twenty-five children into tactful words.
"Teaching doesn't suit you," said Naruto. "Still, I feel there are a few things I could do to learn before I convince you to return to the ANBU."
Neji looked up and waited for Naruto to get to his point.
"Do you think a non-Hyuuga could master one of your techniques? Even without the byakugan?"
"The byakugan is essential in most of the Hyuuga techniques. But I suppose you could take a manual approach to anything. For example, performing Hake Rokujuyon Sho by memorizing the placement of the three-hundred-sixty-one tenkutsu points throughout the human body. It would be difficult, but not impossible." Naruto was watching him intently. "But this isn't the technique that holds your interest," Neji observed.
Naruto glanced away. "Kinjutsu."
Forbidden techniques. Why did Naruto want to become involved with those? Neji pushed aside his paperwork. "The Hyuuga clan has a decent assortment of them. Which one do you want me to show you?"
Naruto looked up in surprise. He pressed his lips, then spoke again.
Neji never bothered to ask the Kage what he wanted with forbidden techniques. He understood their allure: an immeasurable power at an immeasurable price. Sometimes he fantasized about dappling in it himself.
Neji nodded as Naruto told him what he wanted to learn, his blonde head bowed by the end of the hapless explanation. Neji should have offered him counsel instead of facilitating his recklessness. Naruto was his friend. He should have cared on some level.
But he didn't. "Let's get started," said Neji.
There were five years of peace following Hanabi's escape from Konoha. Five years that he didn't know if she was dead or alive, and yet a great weight was lifted from his shoulders, one he hadn't known to be there in the first place. Hanabi became a figment of the past, alongside Itachi, Orochimaru, his parents, his clan, his years spent as a missing nin, his bloody hands, Hinata's battered body...it was all behind him, which was neither a good nor a bad thing. It was what it was.
In those five years he watched Kasai learn to crawl, then walk, and construe her first words.
Hinata had always been regretful that Kasai had inherited her white eyes. It meant she would also inherit the clan, though Hinata had always wanted her to be like him. Free, she'd say. Like her father.
Freedom had its downsides, Sasuke noted, rubbing the seal behind his neck. He had grown up with indiscipline and chaos. Kasai would be raised with guidance and order. The elders taught her to obey her parents, respect her peers, to speak clearly and properly, to convey herself effectively, not to touch people without warrant or invitation, Hyuuga posture and etiquette: bowing to tatami, simple Japanese characters, even holding chopsticks properly. In contrast, the Nara child picked his nose and ate bugs.
She was fortunate to have been born with white eyes. She would have no shortage of family throughout her life. He had lost his clan in his childhood and had spent his teenage years being hunted for his blood, his eyes, and the ownership of his very body. It hadn't been easy being the last sharingan-user, particularly as a child, when he had been impressionable and vulnerable. He had been forced to become stronger, a trait that was quickly supplemented with anger. If Naruto hadn't brought him back, he probably would have died for his anger.
He just wanted Kasai's life to go differently. But to suggest his child was being sheltered was – Hinata's point of view.
With time, he became increasingly aware of his wife's dissatisfaction with her position as clan head. Like Naruto, she missed going on missions and actively participating in the shinobi trade. Despite it, Sasuke failed to hide his opposition to her current enterprise.
"I'll be back in a few weeks," she said, sensing his displeasure.
"Okay," he said calmly. He would go to sleep and pretend he didn't hear her leaving him in the morning. He was being hypocritical, after all. He had spent years doing reconnaissance missions and assassinations in faraway countries, and Hinata had never complained.
Hinata was Konoha's newest ambassador to Kumo, in which she would be travelling and helping the village recover from its latest war for at least the next several weeks. He wondered if it wasn't a disguised effort to look for Hanabi, but shook the thought from his mind. They were passed that. Hanabi could have been anywhere by then.
"I owe it to Naruto," she mumbled. Few were eligible and willing to take the job. Relations between the Hyuuga clan and the rest of Konoha had been strained ever since Hinata's offense five years before. Only his influence on the Hokage had kept her from incarceration. Maybe she wanted to work off her great debt to him.
But Kumo, of all places? Twice, their nin had tried to steal her eyes. Once, they had stolen something else.
"Un." He was seated against the headboard, one of his legs drawn. His forehead protector rested on the nightstand leaving his hair to hang in his eyes, otherwise he just wore slacks. Hinata stood in her nightdress beside the bed, still trying to bargain for his support.
"It's important to me," said Hinata, and he mulled it over once again. She wanted to turn the feigned alliance between Kumo and Konoha into an authentic one. Since her childhood, Konoha had been victim to their covert assaults, the Hyuuga clan especially.
"I understand," he said, but he could tell Hinata wasn't convinced. He closed his eyes, fatigued.
"Sasuke, I feel like I'm – a figurehead," she said, finally revealing what was really on her mind.
Ah. This. "You're the leader of your clan."
"You don't understand."
Sasuke opened his eyes. He didn't want to argue with her. "Hinata, go to sleep. Think of better days, when you'll be back home, hogging blankets, and denying me sex." He began to pull off his socks.
Hinata frowned in concern and caught him off guard with her next statement: "You want sex?"
Sasuke paused, the remaining sock on his foot momentarily forgotten. Hinata was gullible sometimes. "No, I was just-"
"I'm your wife. You have to tell me these things." She looked hurt. "Men need it more than woman. And it's bad for your focus to be so – tense."
Sasuke wondered where she was getting her information. Maybe she was spending too much time around Tenten. He scrutinized her and suspected she was messing with him, so he concealed his embarrassment, not that he was embarrassed. "You have to leave in the morning. You need sleep," he said firmly.
"Stop changing subject. We're talking about what you need."
He rubbed his nose in case it was bleeding, and entertained the concept of agreeing with her. Was she still bartering for his approval or was this something more sinister? "Onna, we're not..."
He trailed off as she crawled into bed and slid behind him, against him, one of her hands coming around to slip into the front of his waistband.
He stiffened. "Hinata – don't-"
"Shhh. Kasai." Their child was sleeping. It was the usual disclosure.
Sasuke grit his teeth as she began to touch him inappropriately. He deeply inhaled, and reminded himself to shut up because Kasai was sleeping and Hinata was...
His pupils rolled upwards and his eyelids sank...Hinata was the one who wanted it...it wouldn't be his fault if she couldn't wake up in the morning...he groaned.
Hinata smiled and kissed his shoulder, enjoying the way his body responded to her will and not his.
Neither got any sleep that night.
Naruto had a hard life. Hinata had amazing breasts. They deserved each other. And yet she had settled for him. Wanted him. Loved him. Did all sorts of dirty things to him.
He idly watched her getting dressed as he was inclined to doing whenever he could. She noticed, and threw him a smile. Returning to the bed, she leaned over and uncharacteristically kissed his cheek. He unintentionally winced.
"Good morning, sweetheart," she said.
Right. Sweetheart. He thought it best not to respond.
Hinata turned away from him, sitting on the edge of the bed to pull on her sandals. "Think about it Sasuke. This is what life could be like," she threatened. "No ninja duties. Sex every night. We'd have a bunch of babies, and I'd be your dutiful wife. Maybe I'd even have dinner waiting for you every night when you came home from work."
"Horrifying," he mentioned sarcastically, closing his eyes.
"Isn't it what you want for Kasai?"
"Yes." He paused. "Excluding the parts about marriage, sex, babies, and...dinner." Why was she making him think these things? She was the ruler of the eldest clan in the village. She enjoyed full control and respect from its members. Did she not appreciate this rare authority? Kasai was a true Hyuuga, and would spend her life draped in the clan's protection. Maybe the volatility of the Uchiha lineage would fade and be forgotten.
It was pointless to quarrel. He tried to be agreeable, to not prolong their discourse, and nodded to whatever she said next. She seemed to notice his resignation.
Hinata had come so far since the night he had met her. Both of them had. He didn't know how to voice this.
He felt her lean down again and kiss him sincerely, on the lips. Sasuke opened his eyes as she pulled back, and for a while they simply watched each other, Hinata's long hair hanging over her shoulder to tickle his throat. Then she kissed him once more and left without another word.
A few weeks later, Sakura and Naruto smiled slyly at each other across the coffee table.
"Ojisan, can we play dolls, 'Jiisan? Jiisan? Ojisan?"
The two Konohaers were at the Hyuuga house, Sakura babysitting Kasai. Naruto had dropped by then decided not to leave, because Sakura was clearly at a loss without him, and surely needed his expertise of all things in order to execute such a mission.
"What, what is it?" the Kage distractedly asked, far more interested in his wife's smile than the wired five-year-old. Kasai was noticeably different in the absence of the elders, and had spent most of the evening pining for his attention.
"Do you want to play dolls with me?" said Kasai. "Please Oji?" She tugged on his gaudy apparel, and threw his companion dirty looks. Sakura scratched her head and wondered if Kasai had forgotten who'd given her the dolls.
Naruto finally looked down at her, throwing a hasty grin. "Dolls? I have a better idea."
The name of the game was sannin.
Sakura was on board. She gave Kasai some purple eye shadow as Naruto wrapped a purple bow around her waist, then he taught her the evil laugh. "Like this. Kukuku."
"That's it! Now close your eyes and count to three, then you have to try to kill us."
As Kasai did as ordered, Naruto and Sakura hurried off to hide.
"Kukukukuku!" said Kasai as she trolled the property for her caretakers, arms stretched out like some sort of Franken-creature's.
"How long do you think she'll keep this up?" Sakura whispered. Her back was to Naruto's chest as he embraced her in the den by some bookshelves. Sakura giggled as Naruto's fingers ghosted her hip, before her laughter was muffled when he abruptly covered her mouth.
Kasai ran by the door, still cackling inanely. He wondered why they had left it ajar.
"Let's find out," said Naruto, kissing her throat and only causing Sakura's laughter to intensify because he was scruffy that day, and it tickled.
The door swung open, and the two froze. Initially they thought it was Kasai, but they blanched upon spotting Sasuke.
Naruto pushed Sakura away from him as though she was another man's woman. She collided with Sasuke, who caught her around the waist. The two awkwardly separated as Naruto blushed and scratched his cheek.
"Yo," said the blonde nonchalantly.
"Hi," said Sasuke. He wore a humorless expression.
"You're early," said Naruto. Sasuke was dressed in civilian clothes. Naruto presumed he had changed at headquarters.
"I am," Sasuke responded, frowning. "Why is Kasai running around cackling like a lunatic?"
As Sakura smirked, Naruto shrugged. "Your kid."
There was the soft pattering of uncoordinated footsteps. Sasuke poked his head out the door and caught the back of Kasai's dress just as she ran by again. He lifted her up, bringing her into the room, and holding her at arms-length to survey her appearance. A twitch crossed his cheek.
"I'm going to kill you!" said Kasai enthusiastically.
"I have to go," mentioned Naruto, zipping off, abandoning Sakura.
Sakura sighed at his lack of appreciation. She stayed behind, her smile unwavering. "Cute, no? She's more like you than you realize."
That's what he was worried about.
Sakura patted his shoulder and left as well. She would find Naruto waiting for her on the veranda.
Sasuke simply exhaled. He looked over Kasai again and wondered if she wasn't mocking him. The child struggled for freedom. "Death is emenent!" she declared.
His cheek twitched again. "Let's get you cleaned up."
Naruto utilized any time he spent with Kasai reversing the efforts of the elders to groom her into a proper heir. He claimed she wasn't being herself. Sasuke soon began to notice a division of Kasai's persona: a civil one, encouraged by Hyuuga, and a wired one, mostly reserved for Naruto. For the idiot to suggest Kasai was better off when she was bouncing off walls... Sasuke just rubbed his temple and hoped Naruto didn't have children of his own.
After hours spent cleaning Kasai up and putting her to bed, because sure, if she agreed to go to sleep there was a very vague possibility of them playing dolls together the next day, but not really, he collapsed in bed face down, and tried not to think about how messy the day had been in the interrogation squad, and the scarlet stains that had littered his uniform.
He needed to choose a successor. Someone who was two parts attractive, one part sadistic, three parts sane, and no parts merciful. He hadn't met anyone who fit the bill since Ino, and so he was stuck in a post that reminded him of all the things he had supposedly put behind him.
Sasuke drifted off only as his thoughts shifted to Hinata. He hadn't heard from her. He hoped she was all right.
Something roused him from his sleep some hours later. The room was dark, and there was another presence within it. Though there was no part of it that overtly alerted his senses, he was still keenly aware of it. He reached for his weapon behind his nightstand. This presence was unique; it couldn't have been anyone else.
In an instant, he was standing behind her. He struck her viciously with the hilt of his sword, causing her head to snap to one side.
As she fell through a strip of moonlight, he saw her thin frame, dark clothing, and bandaged eyes. But when she hit the floor...everything was different. Sasuke's lips parted.
A shadow slithered beneath the door. Sasuke quickly turned towards it. He ran out of the room, his crimson eyes darting about for the intruder. There was a shuffling noise coming from one of the rooms along the corridor. Sasuke approached it and slipped inside. He recognized the noise before he spotted the blade: the sound of metal sinking into soft flesh. Her ninjato glistened red in the darkness. She pressed it once again into her relative's chest.
"Niisan," Hanabi greeted him.
She was taller than she had been the last time he had seen her, but she was otherwise unchanged. She wore the same apathy, no trace of emotion crossing her face.
"I'm going to kill you," said Sasuke with the utmost sincerity. Electricity flickered along his arm.
Abandoning the weapon lodged in the elder's chest, Hanabi fluidly darted through the window he only noticed was open a second later. He stepped onto the sill and followed her into the night.
For several miles he chased her through the village and towards its heart, all her efforts to evade him rendered useless by his abilities. She darted from rooftops to trees, and between buildings, but her tact was no match for his speed. As he closed their distance, acknowledging what he had to do, Hanabi made the mistake of looking back. She stumbled, and he caught the front of her shirt. "Chidori," he hissed, collecting chakra in his hand.
His fist went through her abdomen, coating it in more of that sticky fluid he was so accustomed to washing off. His collar was splattered with blood as she released a ragged cough. Sasuke withdrew his hand and waited for her to collapse.
His eyes widened and his face drained of color. Sasuke lifted his gaze from his handiwork to meet blue eyes rather than white bandages. "Naruto."
He caught his friend's shoulders as he began to fall forward. He held him up, against him. What was wrong with him? Sasuke trembled.
"It's nothing," said Naruto, sensing Sasuke's panic. Blood rolled down his chin, then along his throat. "I'll...heal..."
Sasuke deeply inhaled. "I thought – Hanabi-"
"It's okay Sasu... Open your eyes."
For a moment, he didn't understand what Naruto meant, before he was flooded with comprehension. Again, he inhaled, then expired, trying to clear his mind. It was then that he realized his eyes had been closed all along. He lifted his eyelids and everything was clear, the world becoming authentic in places he hadn't realized to be off.
"Who would have thought her genjutsu had gotten so strong? She did train under Kakashi, after all."
Sasuke distractedly shook his head. "My defenses were-"
"It's okay," Naruto reiterated. "I was on my way to see you. There have been some - events. But Hanabi explains a lot." The Kage didn't have the energy to elaborate. His jaw was clenched in pain.
Someone dropped from the sky beside them. Sasuke looked up at Sakura, her eyes filled with concern. She took Naruto from him, wrapping his arm about her shoulders. "What happened?"
"Hanabi," Naruto grunted.
The Uchiha activated his sharingan. "It won't work again," he said. He was abruptly aware that he had left Hinata at home, unconscious and defenseless, as well as his daughter and dozens of other Hyuugas. He took to the rooftops. There was no time to explain.
"Be careful!" Sakura called.
All that mattered was being fast.