Author: Sassy Southpaw
Story Title: Broken Promises
Summary: Ichigo's already in over his head; the arrival of a stranger makes his life even more complicated. Sasuke wasn't sure he wanted redemption, but when he's thrust into a strange new world, he'll need Ichigo's help to get back-before Madara finds him first.
Spoilers: This story contains spoilers for Naruto up to the most recent manga chapters. It also contains spoilers for Bleach up to the Rescue Arc.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Bleach, nor am I making any profit from this story. The rights belong solely to Masashi Kishimoto and Tite Kubo.
Chapter 1: Revelations
"Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance." -Richard von Weizsaecker
Sasuke knew he was dreaming the minute Uchiha Itachi appeared before him. He didn't think he'd pass out from the pain of transferring Itachi's eyes into his own, but his previous battles against the Raikage and Danzou, along with his short encounter with Naruto had left him completely drained. He would never admit to anyone the pang of fear he felt after overusing Susanoo, how everyone went from being a bit of a blur to just vague outlines.
Losing his ability to see was something he never wanted to experience first-hand again. The minute he left with Madara, he requested Itachi's eyes be implanted immediately. Madara honored his request and now here he was, standing face-to-face with his brother, surrounded by nothing but pure white abyss.
They both stood there, unmoving. Sasuke wasn't sure how to react to his brother after spending nearly his whole life loathing him. Itachi's claim that it was all an act to protect him sounded like the kind of made-up bedtime story parents would tell their children so there was a happy ending.
Sasuke didn't believe in happy endings.
His train of thought was broken when his brother began to move towards him. The eyes that stared at him were not the menacing sharingan red he was so used to looking at, but instead the normal Uchiha black. It almost looked as if there were sorrow in those eyes, and it made Sasuke uncomfortable.
"Don't come any closer," Sasuke said, still wary of where this dream might be heading. For all he knew he was about to be attacked.
"I'm not here to fight you, Sasuke," Itachi replied, as if he could read his thoughts. He took advantage of the silence and continued, "Since I'm able to converse with you right now, I believe it's safe to say that you had Madara implant my eyes into yours."
Sasuke stood in silence, allowing a small nod.
"You may think this is some crazy dream, but when I touched your forehead before I died, it did more than create a defense mechanism against Madara and enable you to use the Mangekyou and all of its abilities."
Sasuke remained unmoving, content for now to allow Itachi to explain the situation to him. Perhaps he had some special knowledge of the sharingan that he could pass on to him. It would make his new goal of destroying Konoha and the village elders that much more achievable.
"I left some of my chakra within you so that if things were to go wrong, and you decided to use my eyes, I would be able to speak with you one last time to see why things went awry. This was the only way we could speak face-to-face, and I can finally find out why you've made so many foolish decisions in such a short amount of time."
Itachi's sudden verbal attack surprised Sasuke. Surprise rapidly turned to anger; he'd be damned if he would stand quietly and let Itachi continue criticizing him.
"What the hell are you talking about? All of the decisions I've made were for you! To avenge you and all of the sacrifices that Konoha and the elders forced you to make! I've already gotten rid of Danzou, but it's not enough. It's not even close! I won't stop until they're all dead!" Sasuke didn't bother lowering his voice. This rage he felt was attached to a short fuse. It sometimes felt like anything was able to set it off these days.
"This is the very reason why I never wanted you to know the truth. It was always my plan for you to kill me in order to get your revenge and finally be free of the anger you've carried with you since that night. Madara has taken advantage of your anger and molded it to his plans. You may think all of these decisions have been your own but in reality, they're all the things Madara wants you to do so that he can achieve his ultimate goal." Itachi's voice was calm, unaffected by Sasuke's outburst.
"Bullshit!" he yelled, anger unabated. "I'm doing this because I want to! Madara is only giving me what I need in order to achieve that. I'm using him like I did Orochimaru. Once he has nothing left to offer me, I'll go on my way and finish my own goals by myself."
"You are still so naive, otouto. Madara will not simply let you go off to do whatever you want. He'll dispose of you if need be, and he'll do it without breaking a sweat. My wish was for you to live a peaceful life, your appetite for revenge finally sated, maybe even returning to Konoha and to your friend, Naruto."
Sasuke couldn't help but twitch at the mention of Naruto's name.
"Naruto means nothing to me," he spat, unable to control the shaking that began spreading through his body. "That village and all of the people in it are nothing but annoying hindrances! Naruto is no better. All he cares about is his precious village and becoming the Hokage. It's a fool's dream, because I intend to kill him and anybody else who dares to get in my way!"
But as he spoke those words, memories of their recent encounter flooded into his head. When they exchanged blows, Naruto had claimed to be able to see inside of his heart, and asked him if he saw what was inside of his. Sasuke had refused to give him an answer, because he was afraid it would betray his current intentions. From what he saw there were two separate pathways he could take. One, like Naruto had said, would lead to the both of them dying in an epic battle against each other. The other...
"You may speak those words with venom and loathing, but we both know that's a lie. You continue to guard your emotions and allow no one to get through. Naruto, for a time, was able to replace me as a brother to you, until your drive for revenge overcame you and you pushed him and everyone who had any sort of emotional connection with you away. You want so desperately to believe that you severed that connection completely, but it's still there. You just refuse to accept that."
Sasuke was growing more and more annoyed with his brother. How dare he stand here and lecture him about his life-what did he know?
"It's not like I wanted to be like this! You stand there and act like you've been around all of these years! You may have sacrificed everything for Konoha, but you're still to blame for why I ended up like this! I lost my family, I lost everything, and you lead me to believe that you were some murderous bastard who left me alive because I wasn't worth killing! Why didn't you just kill me too? Why?"
Sasuke couldn't contain himself. Emotions were flooding out of him all at once as if a dam had broken and he didn't know how to stop it. He felt something warm falling down his cheeks and touched his face with his hand. He was crying. Why the hell was he crying?
"I understand your frustrations, Sasuke. I do not deny the role I played in how you have turned out. I wanted you to become strong so that you were able to face anything that came your way. Had I known it was going to cause you this much pain, this much confusion, maybe killing you would have been for the best."
Sasuke stood there, shocked at his brother's words.
"But you're my little brother, Sasuke, and I swore to myself that I would never let anything bad happen to you, that I'd always protect you. I did all of this because I love you, Sasuke." Itachi's voice broke at those last words.
It was barely noticeable, but Sasuke was able to catch it as he stood there in stunned silence. Legs unable to support him anymore, he fell to his knees, tears flowing freely at the words coming out of his brother's mouth. Madara might have told him everything, but to hear it from his own brother, Sasuke couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt.
"If you really want to avenge me, Sasuke, destroying the one thing I sacrificed everything to protect isn't the answer. Madara is dangerous. He's coming closer and closer to reaching complete control of the great nations and everyone is going to need to work together to stop him. This includes you, Sasuke. Killing Madara will bring peace among everyone, and the wars will stop. Believe that you can finally be free from your anger, and it will become so. Make my death mean something by finishing what I started."
Sasuke watched Itachi as he knelt down to his level. He didn't move when Itachi wrapped his arms around him in a hug. Several seconds passed before Sasuke felt his own arms, as if they were moving independent of the rest of his body, return the hug with a fierceness he'd never felt before.
"I'm sorry, nii-san." Sasuke whispered the words, and it was as if an unbearable weight was lifted off of his shoulders. The confession prompted him to think of the other path he had seen after exchanging blows with Naruto.
That path had shown him back in Konoha, united once again with his friends. He had looked...happy. Could that really be a reality for him? For so much of his life, all he had known was anger and betrayal. All he wanted was revenge. He rarely let himself smile or be happy because it made him weak, which would make his goal unachievable. But maybe...
Maybe he could finally be happy with his life. He could let go of his revenge and focus on rebuilding the Uchiha clan. Was it really that simple, though?
"You're still pure, Sasuke. Don't let someone like Uchiha Madara influence you to do his bidding. You've become a pawn in his plot for revenge against Konoha. He feeds off of your anger and desperation, and uses it to his advantage. Don't let him win. Don't let him get what he wants, because he is coming dangerously close to getting just that."
Sasuke released his brother and both stood up. Sasuke hastily wiped his wet face with the sleeve of his shirt. Had he been underestimating Uchiha Madara and his ultimate intentions all this time? He always seemed to be in the right spot at the right time. After being told about Itachi's true role in the massacre of the Uchiha clan, his emotions had clouded his judgment. His vision had became narrowed and all he could focus on was, once again, revenge.
He was an avenger. That hadn't changed. But it didn't mean his target couldn't.
"All right," Sasuke said, hoping he wasn't making a big mistake. But it didn't feel like it; his roiling mess of emotions hardened into something like resolve. "I'll make sure Madara pays for what he's trying to do. I won't let him get away with it. I'll kill him and avenge your death."
Itachi smiled. "With the help of my eyes, you'll achieve a great new power. Show Madara what it means to be someone worthy of having the Uchiha name. I don't have much time left to speak with you, but I want to tell you how proud I am of you and how far you've progressed. You have the power to do great things, Sasuke. It's up to you whether they happen or not."
Sasuke stared at Itachi's outstretched hand, and then grasped it. The brothers exchanged one more look of understanding, before Sasuke felt the hand begin to disappear.
"Wait! What is Madara's big plan, though? What's his overall goal?" Sasuke asked, suddenly very aware that he didn't know much of Madara's intentions.
"You'll have to figure it out yourself. I'm afraid my time is up," Itachi said, becoming more and more faint.
"No! You can't go yet!" Sasuke said desperately. "There are so many things I wanted to talk to you about." He had spent most of his life yelling at his brother. He had never gotten the chance to actually talk to him about anything.
"Goodbye, Sasuke. I'll be watching over you."
Sasuke watched him fade away completely, feeling very alone once again. He hoped he'd be able to face what was to come, knowing that it wouldn't be an easy feat, killing Madara. It would be hard, but not impossible. Nobody is immortal, Sasuke knew that much.
"Goodbye, nii-san," Sasuke said to the abyss, allowing a small smile to grace his features.
Sasuke knew he was awake. He was lying down, the hard surface of the ground pressing into his back. He opened his eyes to utter darkness, and for a moment, panic surged through him. Had the procedure gone wrong in some way? Sasuke had no idea how skilled Madara was at medical ninjutsu. His hands quickly went to his eyes, and he discovered a fabric of some sort covering them.
He breathed out a sigh of relief as he slowly removed the piece of cloth and sat up, observing his surroundings. He was back at where Madara had taken him after his fight with Itachi, the room dimly lit with a couple of torches. It looked like his wounds had been treated as well, bandages covering most of his body. His vision, which had been a little blurry at first, was starting to sharpen.
Then he felt it. The raw power of his new sharingan. It was like nothing he'd ever felt before. Itachi wasn't lying when he said he'd achieve great power upon receiving his eyes. After agreeing to dispose of Madara, Sasuke had briefly doubted his ability to carry through with Itachi's request. Now, though, with this new power, Sasuke felt as if he could do anything.
He sat there for a moment in awe at the latent potential of the bloodline limit he had always taken for granted. Maybe this could really be done. Maybe he could kill Madara himself without the aid of anyone else.
Madara. It took Sasuke a minute to realize that Madara had had years, maybe decades, to perfect his permanent Mangekyou. He knew all the tricks, all the secrets. Hell, he'd even managed to stay alive longer than Orochimaru, who had been obsessed with achieving immortality. However Madara was staying alive, Sasuke knew it probably wasn't through the use of multiple body replacements, which made Madara that much more dangerous.
Sasuke would have to act like nothing had changed, so that he wouldn't raise suspicion in Madara. By being on the inside, he could gather more information on what his overall plan was, and share that information with the Kages so that they can prepare appropriately, and together, find a way to ultimately defeat him.
"You're finally awake."
Sasuke froze, eyes widening slightly at the sudden intrusion. He had been so absorbed in his thoughts, he hadn't even noticed Madara's approach. The very man that he had just been plotting against stood before him now, regarding Sasuke with what he might hesitantly classify as curiosity. It was difficult to say for certain with his ever present mask hiding his face.
"I have to say," Madara mused, "it's unusual for someone to pass out during a procedure like that."
Sasuke cursed silently. Already he was garnering suspicion from Madara, thrusting himself into the spotlight.
"Yeah. I guess being so chakra deprived from all of the battles took its toll on me," he lied smoothly.
"Yes, I suppose that's possible," Madara said, but Sasuke got the feeling that he didn't completely believe the lie.
"So, what are your plans now?" Sasuke asked, forcing himself to sound nonchalant.
"There are several things that require my attention," he said cryptically. "You should stay here and lie low for a while to give your injuries time to heal properly. How are your eyes, by the way?"
"Good. The procedure was a success. I can see clearly now and feel the power of my new Mangekyou."
"Excellent. I have business to take care of, so I can't stay and answer any questions at this time. Stay here and don't go off trying to kill anyone else until you're healed."
With that, Madara disappeared, no doubt using his teleportation jutsu, before Sasuke could even reply.
Madara knew something. Sasuke wasn't sure how he could tell, but something had felt off the whole time he was there.
Sasuke tried to stand up and was met with intense pain. It felt like his whole body had been used as a punching bag. Not wanting to seem weak in a hostile environment, he bit back a groan as he propped himself up completely, using the wall for support. Whatever business Madara was attending to right now, it left him with the perfect opportunity to explore and gather some much needed intelligence.
If Sasuke thought standing up was hard, walking was a hundred times worse. Every step was a feat of its own. Sasuke couldn't believe he had let himself get so beaten up, unless these were residual effects from overusing the Mangekyou sharingan. Probably a combination of the two.
Either way, Sasuke was going to have to ignore the throbbing pain if he wanted to get anywhere. He hated the fact that he was underground.
After spending so much time with Orochimaru, moving from hideout to hideout, he should probably be used to being underground all the time. Maybe he was, but familiarity with the constant narrow corridors and the damp, musty smell that never seemed to go away hadn't made it any more pleasant. He despised being underground for no longer than he had to be. Though he would never admit it to anyone, he half suspected he might be developing claustrophobia due to so much exposure.
Step by step, he made his way down the hallway, no longer bothering by that point to hide the occasional grunt of pain when a particular step sent a shooting pain through his whole body.
After what seemed like forever, the hallway began to expand, and Sasuke came across multiple pathways. He had four different paths he could choose from. Which was the right one? No good way to tell, so Sasuke took the path furthest to the right. The corridor seemed to be grow narrower the deeper he went, adding to his already considerable discomfort.
After another gruelingly long walk, Sasuke reached the end, which led to another room not unlike the one he had just been in. The only difference was this one had a desk with papers littered everywhere. Sasuke went over to the desk and scrutinized the large paper on top of it.
His eyes widened in surprised recognition. It was an extremely detailed map of Konoha, from the perimeters of the barrier that covered the village to the exact locations of every guard stationed.
Taking a closer look at all of the papers scattered around, Sasuke realized upon further inspection that they were all detailed profiles of ninjas, and not just ones from Konoha. Wind, Earth, Rain...they were all there. How had Madara collected so much information? Was this what he did in all of his spare time? Make detailed maps and spy on unsuspecting ninja?
Sasuke rifled through the drawers of the desk but found nothing new, just more profiles. The very bottom drawer he had trouble opening, but it too yielded nothing worthwhile. He was about to close it when he noticed something: the drawer was shorter than the others.
Strange. Sasuke tried to pull the whole drawer out, and after a bit of struggling, yanked it free of the desk. There was a walled off compartment in the very back of it, and Sasuke could sense a very faint protective barrier surrounding it.
Using his knowledge of breaking barriers, and this one wasn't extremely difficult, Sasuke made the appropriate hand signs and murmured the dispel jutsu. The faint energy dissipated and Sasuke used a kunai to break through the wood. Once he had pierced through, he reached inside the tiny area and pulled out a sealed scroll. Sasuke could already tell the seal was very complex. He didn't have the knowledge to be able to break it without completely destroying the scroll.
Something so well protected had to be important, however. Rather than risk losing whatever information it held, it made sense to take it with him. After tucking it into the small bag that carried his kunais and shuriken, Sasuke put the drawer back and left the room, determined now to find an exit and some fresh air.
After making his way back from where he just came, Sasuke was yet again met with the other three pathways. This time he decided to go to the far left one. As he walked down this new hallway, Sasuke reminded himself to keep track of how long he had been gone. The last thing he needed was for Madara to find him snooping around, especially with this unknown scroll in his possession. He also noticed that he was beginning to feel a little winded. All of this walking around while he was still very injured wasn't doing his recovery any favors.
The corridor he was walking down seemed to have no end. It twisted and turned, became narrow then wide, and now Sasuke was faced with a bit of an upward slope. He took this as a good sign, however, because up normally meant the surface wasn't too far away.
The farther Sasuke progressed, the steeper the slope became. His body was not in the right condition to handle this much physical exertion; Sasuke suddenly became very aware of the pain that he had nearly forgotten about since finding the scroll.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Sasuke spotted light at the very end of the corridor. He was so close, and after reaching the top, it became obvious he was still underground. The area he was viewing was colossal. He would have never imagined that a cave could be so vast. Pillars of tree trunks had formed in some areas, which was the only way that Sasuke could think of for this area to still be intact and not completely collapsed.
A reluctant awe swept over him at the sheer size of this place, but that's not what had made his heart skip a beat and his breath catch in his throat.
This wasn't an empty cave, not by any means. It was completely filled with bodies. They weren't dead bodies, just bodies, standing motionless. There were so many, Sasuke couldn't see the end of them. If he had to guess, he would estimate them to number a hundred thousand-at least.
Madara was building an army. And if things continued and these bodies kept growing, it would only be a matter of time before all of the ninjas of the great nations combined were outnumbered by these zombie-like beings.
"My, you sure don't waste any time exploring."
Sasuke turned around. Madara was there, standing before him once again. He looked different, though. His mask wasn't the same as before. It looked like the sharingan now, with three tomoe on it, two of which he used to see through it, it seemed. Madara crossed his arms, as if he was waiting for a reply.
"What is this?" Sasuke asked. It was the only thing he could think of saying, still in shock over the sheer number of these minions.
"I'm sure you've already pieced it together. It doesn't take a fool to know when he's looking at an army. And before you ask, chakra from the collected bijuus was used to create them. Now, since I answered your question, perhaps you would care to explain why you are here? Surely with your injuries, you wouldn't put yourself through so much pain so soon just to scout your surroundings. Not unless you had some ulterior motive to snoop around."
Sasuke had no idea how he could lie his way out of this one. It sounded like Madara already suspected something, and now here he was, caught red-handed.
"I was looking for an exit. The last time I was here you used your teleportation jutsu to get me to the surface," Sasuke said. It wasn't strictly untrue. It just wasn't the whole truth.
"You're not telling me everything. You've been...different ever since you had Itachi's eyes transferred. I knew something was off the moment you passed out. Chakra deprived or not, it shouldn't have happened. I know Itachi is involved, somehow. He was the only one who was ever able to stay a couple steps behind me. Let me guess, he has shown you the 'light,' and now you mean to turn on me. Am I correct?" Madara asked, too calm for Sasuke's liking.
Just like that, he had figured everything out. Was he really capable of detecting a difference in his behavior after only briefly speaking with him after waking up? Sasuke should have heeded his brother's words. Madara was extremely dangerous, and now he was in less than perfect condition and had every disadvantage.
"Itachi was right about you." Sasuke said quietly, giving up on deception entirely. He had the feeling it would be useless against Madara.
"So he did speak to you somehow after you passed out. That man never ceases to surprise me. Just when I think I've had him beat, he comes back to ruin my plans in some way. Always trying to protect his dear little brother," Madara said in a mocking tone that didn't sit right with Sasuke.
"Fuck you!" Sasuke yelled, red eyes flashing. "I don't know what the hell you're trying to accomplish. All I know is that I'm going to stop you and avenge my brother's death!"
"Sasuke, both you and I know how that fight would end should you attack me right now. Though, if I can't convince you to work with me, then I can't just let you leave here alive with what you've just found out. To think, if you had just stayed angry and done what I asked, you wouldn't be in this predicament." Madara said.
"I don't care! I'm not one of your little minions who does all your work for you! You're a pain in the ass, and I just want you dead!"
Sasuke wasted no time. It was now or never. Ignoring his body's cries for rest, he completed several hand seals and concentrated electricity began to form in his left hand. He lunged forward, using all of the speed he could muster up in his weakened state.
Sasuke was centimeters away from his target, but instead of connecting, his attack went right through Madara, and he fell to the ground.
"Sasuke, Sasuke," Madara said, making a disapproving tsking noise. "Did you really think that that would work? That you would use that one attack, and it'd all be over? You really are naive. Or perhaps you hit your head too hard in one of your many battles."
Before Sasuke could react Madara was behind him. A hand closed around his throat and lifted him up into the air. Sasuke watched Madara's other hand come forward to punch him in the stomach, and he flew through the air, crashing into some rocks. A violent cough wracked his chest, and fine droplets of blood misted through the air. Some of his recently treated wounds had opened back up. Things were not looking good.
Sasuke experienced a moment of deja vu, mind flashing back to a time when he was younger and his brother had effortlessly stopped his attack and snapped his wrist, sending him flying into the wall. The power gap between him and Madara was too great right now. He needed to train and get stronger before he could even consider facing him in a battle one on one. He closed his eyes.
"You should have come to your senses. How disappointing. Attacking me was a foolish mistake; you're pathetic right now, barely clinging to life. Itachi may have been able to change your mind, but unfortunately he can't do anything about the stupid decisions you make. Might as well end this right now."
Madara lunged forward. As he did, Sasuke opened his eyes. Mangekyou activated, a skeleton rapidly began to form around him, just in time to stop the attack. Blood poured down his eyes as Sasuke put everything he had into his one last defense. Unable to muster up enough chakra for the full Susanoo to form, what he had was enough for now to keep him somewhat safe.
"I'm not that easy to kill...you stupid bastard," Sasuke gritted out. His body felt like it was on fire, and every breath he took was like a knife in his chest.
"I don't know how long you'll be able to keep that shield up, but I don't have the time or patience right now to sit here to wait and see. You're like a cockroach, Sasuke. Even if I left you here for dead you'd find some way to survive, and I'll have to deal with you all over again. And by then you'll have had some time to experiment with your new sharingan. So instead, I'm going to try a new little technique on you that I picked up from your former sensei-with a little twist to it."
Madara formed several hand seals before slamming his hand to the ground. Sasuke watched as something began to form underneath him, unable to break his concentration to respond.
"Instead of leaving you for dead in this universe, this particular technique, if it's done correctly, should send you to an alternate universe. Once there, you won't have any friends who will be able to save you, and I'll never have to worry about you again, since you'll never be able to find a way to get back."
Light began to form around Sasuke, and the ground he was sitting on began to disappear. He wasn't certain if he could quite believe what Madara was saying, but he sure as hell wasn't going to let him have the last laugh.
"You know, this wasn't the only the place I had the pleasure of exploring," he said, pulling the scroll out of his bag. "I hope this didn't mean much to you and your overall plans for world domination or whatever."
Sasuke waved the scroll, allowing a small smirk when he saw Madara begin to panic a little.
"Where-! Where did you get that! Give that to me, now!" Madara sounded furious.
Sasuke felt his body becoming lighter, as if he truly were disappearing. Looking at his hand, he saw that he was. Madara lunged at him, but his hand, which had reached out to grasp at the scroll, came back with nothing.
"Yeah, not so fun when you're on the receiving end of that trick." Sasuke said, feeling himself about to fade away completely. "And one more thing: fuck you!"
In his final moments in his own universe, Sasuke reflected that he had never seen Madara look so enraged. What was so important about this scroll? Would he even live long enough to figure it out?
He didn't have time to think about it because the last thing he remembered was a flash of light, then nothing.
He was gone.