TH: Hello all. Welcome to the last chapter. Yep, this is the end. However, I AM in the planning and initial writing stages of a sequel, so... yeah. Watch out for it. Naruto's in it, for all of you who were slavering at the mouth for him to be in this fic. :P
I'd like to extend a huge thank you to all of you readers. I really appreciate the response I've had to this fic- the biggest I've had! It's my most reviewed fic so far, and the most faved, alerted, and archived. And that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. So thanks. And please enjoy the end to "Perchance to Dream" and remember to keep an eye out for the sequel!
I had a review, anonymous otherwise I would have addressed it via pm, that was upset that I only had 8 survivors of the Uchiha Clan. First of all, there were 12; it was only 8 Konoha-loyal Uchiha that survived (though I will admit that the other 4 would be eventually executed for treason). Second, I never said that only 8 of the clan were Konoha-loyal, I only said that 8 survived the Coup. Considering there was a lot of fighting, and some of it surprise attacks, some of both Konoha-loyal and Coup-supporter Uchiha would have died in it. Also, the reviewer mentioned that the number of survivors would have been increased by how many children there were in the Clan. No. You are thinking like a modern Westerner. The first thing you need to understand about the Uchiha is that they are a very traditional-seeming clan, traditional in the sense of traditional Japanese. Almost like a samurai family, even though in the story they are ninja. And in traditional samurai families, if there is a situation in which the parents/adults would commit seppuku, they would 'help' the children do so as well. Family suicides. They did happen. You can even look to as recently as WWII to see examples: Fearing the Allied Forces' occupation (there was some truly horrible fear-mongering propaganda about it), when it became obvious that the Allies were taking over an island, there were civilians as well as soldiers that committed seppuku rather than suffer the shame and horror of being under their enemy's rule. Look up Suicide Cliff. So. There you have it, my rational as to why I had so few Uchiha survive.
Perchance to Dream
Chapter Twelve—What Dreams May Come
Itachi woke to the feeling of small fingers patting his bangs against the side of his head. With some difficulty, he opened his eyes wide enough to see Sasuke kneeling beside him. Over the boy's shoulders he could see the familiar setting of a hospital room, and their mother asleep in one of the chairs provided for guests. Sasuke's hand withdrew as the boy noticed his brother was awake. Itachi met Sasuke's gaze, and saw the six-year-old's eyes fill with tears.
"Onii-tama!" Sasuke sniffled, and buried his face against Itachi's blanket-covered chest. Itachi automatically lifted his hand—only one seemed to want to move—and placed it lightly on Sasuke's spiky hair.
"Sasuke…" And then it hit him that he was alive, and Sasuke was alive, and Madara was dead, and the Coup had failed. And Itachi pressed Sasuke to him gently with great emotion. "It will be alright, Otouto."
It didn't take long after Itachi woke for him to be released from the hospital. He'd been unconscious for four days, and his chest and arm where he'd been injured were almost healed. His left arm was in a cast and sling to immobilize the shoulder, so the chest wound could heal up the rest of the way without trouble.
It didn't take much longer after that for the Hokage to call him to his office. And so Itachi stood in front of Sarutobi Hiruzen, Sandaime Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato, with bandages swathing his left side, sorrow, relief, and determination etching his young face and the symbol of Konoha etching his hitai-ate.
Sarutobi took a moment to silently inspect Itachi's appearance. Then, fingers steepled, face genuine, he said: "How are you feeling, Itachi-kun?"
Itachi inclined his head to the Hokage. "I am not in pain anymore. Other than that… I am relieved, and grieved."
Sarutobi nodded. Out of the fifty-nine members of the Uchiha Clan, only twelve had survived the coup attempt, and only eight of those had fought against the coup. The other four had been Coup-supporters, and were now tenants of the Torture and Interrogation Force's jail. There had been more Uchiha who had survived the fighting, but before Konoha could secure them as prisoners, they had committed seppuku. Itachi, who had never really wanted his Clan to die, was right to be grieved.
But since the threat of Madara had been neutralized, and there were eight living Uchiha instead of the three (sort of) in his other-past, Itachi was also right to be relieved.
"Are you taking your father's place as Clan Head?" the Hokage asked. Itachi shook his head.
"No, my mother will be leading the Clan in my stead. We determined that the survivors would be more inclined to follow her than they would be to follow me." Itachi's lips twisted into a small, wry smile. "Even though they opposed the coup once it came down to it, I was actively giving information on the situation to the Hokage. They might have also fought the Clan, but I took it a step further, and they are very aware of that."
"A fine line between opposing the Clan and being a traitor, hm?" Sarutobi asked shrewdly.
"Yes. They don't hate me, because in the end they were on the same side as I, but there was that one instant when they were on the wire. They could have just as easily picked the other side, and had they done that, my actions would have been a betrayal of them, too. And they know that."
The Hokage nodded, thoughtfully. "I see… Well, the bitterness will fade in time. Other than that, how has the Clan been handling this?"
This wasn't Sarutobi asking after the Clan's health; this was the Hokage asking for a situation report. Itachi straightened, responding to the change of tone.
In truth, the survivors were in a bit of a crisis. Even if they didn't exactly regret choosing to fight against the rest of the Clan, they still felt guilty at betraying their family. Some of them had even directly betrayed family, as Itachi had done, fighting his father. It wasn't something that most people could do without some mental or emotional upheaval. Especially those who were members of a Clan as demanding of obedience and loyalty as the Uchiha. It was a part of the Uchiha upbringing that children were taught to live and die for the Clan, first and foremost. Going against those teachings was difficult. Itachi was fortunate that he had always been strong of will and clear of mind, enough so that he had never bought in on the lessons, had never been as loyal as the Clan would have wanted. Others, such as Shisui, had been more susceptible to that particular form of brainwashing.
They suffered now, wondering if they had done the right thing, in agony over might-have-beens. Shisui, Itachi knew, was having trouble reconciling his actions, especially since his parents had died in the coup attempt. He was Shunshin no Shisui, one of the strongest of the Uchiha, and he had chosen his three non-Clan Genin over his blood family. Was there shame in him for that? Shisui was fortunate that his Genin did not withdraw from him after the chaos of the coup attempt; instead, they clung like burrs to him, their respect and awe of him ratcheting up into near hero-worship. It helped ground him, a bit. Their constant presence by him reminded him of why he'd made his choice, and their innocent adoration made him feel his actions more validated. Not all the Uchiha survivors had that luxury.
It was about half and half, those ninja who trusted the survivors and those who did not. Among the civilians of Konoha it was the same. But to be able to remain steadfast in their decision to stand by their Village, the Uchiha survivors would need the support and acceptance of the people of Konoha. To ostracize them now would crumble the reasons they had made that choice in the first place, and cultivate the danger of the survivors turning traitor themselves. Who would continue to support a Village that doubted them, that didn't acknowledge what they'd sacrificed, that shunned them?
Itachi relayed all this to the Hokage, who nodded understanding. Sarutobi tugged lightly at his beard thoughtfully, smoke curling from the pipe clenched between his lips.
"I'll assign them to Teams that will support them," the Sandaime said. "And perhaps I will personally see that they feel their actions appreciated."
By that, Itachi supposed the Hokage meant he would visit and thank the Uchiha survivors himself. Receiving personal acknowledgement from the Hokage would help shore them up against their doubts. Itachi gave a nod to the wisdom of the plan.
Sarutobi sighed, taking his pipe from his mouth. He looked up at Itachi from beneath his eyebrows. "Is this over?"
Itachi considered. The way he had come to this world… Twenty-two-year-old body near death, Itachi's spirit had gone back to its eleven-year-old body. Would the same sort of thing happen to Madara? Itachi had killed his older body, but did that just mean his spirit had gone to whatever Madara had existed in this time?
"I'm not sure," Itachi said honestly. "There is the Madara that exists here. He could still pose a threat."
"Hm," the Sandaime said.
"And there are still the nukenin who would form the Akatsuki. Including…" Itachi hesitated a bare moment, knowing the topic was a rather sensitive one for the Hokage. "Including Orochimaru."
Sure enough, some tension sharpened the line of the Hokage's shoulders. Orochimaru… his wayward student. Sarutobi nodded, sudden and sorrowful decisiveness making his face age about ten years. "Yes. It is time I dealt with that failing."
Itachi respectfully averted his face as the Hokage got a grip on his emotions. Finally, the Hokage cleared his throat. "And where do you go from here, Itachi-kun?"
Itachi took a breath. He could withdraw; he'd done what he'd set out to do. The Uchiha Clan was not wiped out; the Coup had failed. He'd killed Madara. He'd never really wished to be a shinobi, to kill. And here was his opening to become otherwise, to live in peace.
Except it would be a lie. There were still threats to Konoha, threats Itachi could help with. They still needed his strength. His use of the Mangekyo during the coup attempt had not completely ruined his eyesight; in fact, his vision was only slightly blurred at the edges. It was nowhere near as bad as in the other-past, which was only reasonable, since he had used it far less in this single fight than he had in all the years he'd been a nukenin. He could still fight at his full ability. And he would, until Konoha was safe, or he was dead.
Itachi knelt in front of the Hokage's desk, head bowed. "I am a shinobi of Konoha, and your weapon, Hokage-sama."
"Rise," Sarutobi said quickly, having never been one for his subordinates bowing and scraping. Itachi obeyed, and met the Hokage's eyes. Sarutobi gave him a wry look. "So you will continue on as a warrior. Although I suppose your knowledge of what will come has been somewhat altered with the occurrences that have recently taken place."
"Everything has changed," Itachi agreed. "It is likely that my knowledge has been made essentially obsolete. I am, from now on, just another Leaf-nin in your ranks."
Sarutobi smiled. "I hardly think you could ever be 'just another' anything, Uchiha Itachi-kun."
The Uchiha survivors had moved out of the Clan Compound after the coup attempt. None of them particularly wished to face those memories every day. So they moved, all eight of them. It wasn't exactly a trial to do so, nor to find themselves lodging.
Mikoto, Sasuke, and Itachi had moved into a small house in the shade of the Mountain. It was smaller than their house in the Compound, but comfortable. As Itachi walked in the door, he was met by Sasuke, who seized Itachi's leg tightly, face pressed against his side.
"What's the matter, Otouto?"
Sasuke lifted a grave face to meet Itachi's gaze and he divulged quietly: "Okaa-san is sad."
Itachi let out a breath, eyebrows coming together as he looked up into the house. "Do you know where she is right now, Sasuke?"
The boy nodded. "She's in her bedroom."
Itachi poked Sasuke's forehead, earning himself an indignant huff, and went down the hall to the bedrooms. He paused at the closed door of his mother's room, and knocked softly. After a moment, his mother opened the door. She looked collected, but Itachi could see the subtle redness under her eyes that indicated she'd been weeping recently.
"Okaa-san," he said quietly. "You're upset."
She tried to hide it for a heartbeat longer, then the rigidity of her face eased and the sorrow came through. "I'm sorry. But I…"
Itachi shook his head. "Grieving for the dead is not something anyone needs to apologize for."
Mikoto closed her eyes and gave a sigh that shuddered only a little. "I know you and your father never really got along, but… He was not always so unyielding."
"You were his wife. You knew him before he became Clan Head, before he had sons who the Clan watched sharply. I imagine the man you knew was different than the one Sasuke and I knew. Time and power can change anyone," Itachi said. He paused. "I never wished him dead. I'm sorry I couldn't stop it."
Mikoto shook her head, a few tears squeezing through her composure and clinging to her eyelashes. "It wasn't your fault, Itachi-kun. Fugaku was the architect of his own death, and the Clan was only too eager to help him along. But… But there are so few of us! We've lost all of… Were there really so few honest Uchiha?"
The tears started falling, as much as in shame and frustration as in sorrow. Her hand went to the doorjamb to brace herself.
There was really nothing for Itachi to say to that. It was true. The grand majority of the Clan had turned against Konoha, against their home and comrades. They'd broken the old Senju-Uchiha alliance that had been made when the Hidden Village was founded, for nothing more than the desire for more power. Yes, by all appearances there had only been eight honest Uchiha among the fifty-nine living Clanmembers.
"Sasuke," Itachi said softly. There was a small noise from the corner of the hallway, and then his little brother stepped guiltily into sight. He'd been eavesdropping the whole time; Itachi had known but hadn't cared. He motioned Sasuke closer and the boy crept down the hall, his eyes on their mother, his brow furrowed worriedly.
"Okaa-san," Sasuke said once he'd gotten close. He patted their mother's leg. Mikoto went to her knees to wrap her arms around her youngest. Sasuke, usually adverse to any action he deemed as childish or un-ninja-like, hugged her back tightly. She looked up over his should to Itachi and gave a small watery smile.
"Thank you, both of you."
Itachi smiled slightly back. Their problems were far from over, true, but already this life was looking brighter than the one he'd already lived. He had his mother and brother, his greatest friend, and his Village. And he would do his damnedest to keep it all.
One more time with a big thank you to you, my dear readers!