Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, and this fanfiction is not-for-profit.
Tags: fem!Naruto, femNarutoxSasuke, Time-Travel/Redo, angst, character death, sexual themes, politics,
(AN): May I present to you all "Chasing Yesterday", which is right now my most popular and reviewed story by a large margin. For all my new readers - welcome! This was my first big fic, and is still currently my longest by far. For all my curious old readers - you may consider this a sort of Chasing Yesterday Revitalization Project. For the rest of the month I will attempt to edit at least one chapter a day (since this story was originally posted raw), in the hopes that by the end I will have built up enough steam to write an entirely new chapter. Changes will be based on smoothing out reading and fixing grammar rather than any great plot changes. Now, onward!
Edited: September 15, 2015
"Sasuke, there comes a point in every man's life where he has a choice between what he wants to do and what he must." – Uchiha Fugaku
Rokudaime Hokage Uchiha Sasuke was an embittered, hollow, and lonely man. He had no family to speak of, and no one living who considered him a friend.
He also contained a ten-tailed bijuu in his gut, making him the shinobi world's greatest living weapon.
Absently clutching at his stomach, Sasuke threw his oak ink-brush into the trash bin. The Uchiha momentarily abandoned his paperwork, striding over to the window and throwing it open. He reveled in the cool night breeze that brushed against his face.
Konohagakure. The Village Hidden in the Leaves. Also known privately to Sasuke as his responsibility. The Rokudaime Hokage was well-known, respected, and feared by the other Hidden Villages. He did not, however, enjoy the love and well-wishes of the populace of his own. Konoha was an obligation, and he did not love his obligations.
He only loved those who gave him those obligations. Kakashi, Sakura, Itachi, and Naruko…
("P-Promise me Sasuke…" A burble of blood.
"Yes! Anything! Just don't you die on me dobe!"A choked sob.
"Heh," A chuckle "You always came through in the end."
Shaking his head against the memories, Sasuke slid his gaze over to a nearby balcony. "It's getting late, Kakashi. What do you want?"
Melting out of the shadows, his silver-haired jounin-sensei of a childhood long past favoured him with a courteous nod and a polite "Hokage-sama".
It was always Hokage-sama or Uchiha-sama or very rarely Rokudaime-dono from those that spoke to him now. Never Sasuke-kun or teme.
He had no remaining bonds with the living.
"Reporting S-rank mission completed, Hokage-sama." The dog-masked ANBU reported passionlessly.
"Dismissed, Kakashi." the Uchiha responded tiredly. The Fourth Shinobi World War had well and truly broken Kakashi. His mother died giving birth, his father committed suicide, his teammates dead on bad missions, and his sensei died fighting a demon. The death of two of his students and the estrangement of the third was the straw that broke the horse's back.
With a small bow, the ANBU operative flickered out of sight. Everything the Hatake had ever touched had turned to ash. The only thing left to him was a life of murder and mayhem – life as a member of Konoha's black ops.
Sasuke understood that. He also understood that he was personally responsible for much of the man's grief. It was all the Hokage could do to prevent his former sensei from slicing open his own throat through distracting Kakashi with a constant series of S-ranked missions.
("It's all your fault! Naruko is dead because of you!" A furious scream.
"Yes…" A tired whisper.)
Yes. Uchiha Sasuke was a man without any hope of redemption.
The Rokudaime Hokage spun about and stomped over to the door. Flicking the lights off, he left his office with a slam.
Sasuke wouldn't be finishing any more work that night.
Kakashi was there before him.
Konoha's monument to the honoured fallen had endured through the passing years, unchanged but for the new names constantly carved into it. Dark as night, the stone monolith absorbed the late evening starlight without a glimmer of reflection.
Sasuke had known many of the individuals now carved into the stone personally. He'd even been the one to send some of them on the missions they had never returned from. Sasuke rarely gave them a second thought on his frequent appearances at the stone, preferring instead to trace a single name over and over.
The two hollow men stood side-by-side as the night passed and the sky lightened. Unmoving until the sun began to peek over the trees.
Hatake departed, leaving the Hokage alone. It was only then that Sasuke permitted himself to consider the other of his great failures, granting the name the same reverent treatment as Naruko's.
"All for Konoha." the Last Uchiha whispered, the pitch of his voice ugly and wounded. Turning away, Sasuke formed a hand seal and vanished in a swirl of leaves. Colours whipped by Sharingan eyes until Sasuke dropped out of the Shunshin to reappear before his office.
The chuunin guards snapped to attention with a "Hokage-sama!" that Sasuke promptly ignored.
"Inform Hyuuga Hanabi and Inuzuka Kiba that the meeting with the Kazekage is in conference room 3 at 1100 hours." He informed them curtly, before shutting the door on their mutual "Yes, Hokage-sama!"
It was hardly the first sleepless night that Sasuke had worked since the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, and it would hardly be the last.
"I can give you what you want most…"
With a wordless snarl, the Uchiha slammed the voice of the Juubi to the back of his mind. Sasuke had no patience for its feeble attempts at trickery at the best of times. He was also not a fool, as the only things he truly wanted were dead and dust.
Slumping into his chair, Sasuke pulled a new brush out from one of the drawers in his desk and promptly began sorting through the paperwork that had been delivered that morning. He had a little more than three hours before his meeting with Sunagakure's diplomats and he felt he might as well make the best use of that time.
It wasn't like he had hobbies, unless one was to count the political games that accompanied his position as such.
Thirteen courtship requests, a formal invitation to the ball of one of Hi no Kuni's minor noble families, a sealed missive from the office of the Raikage, and the details of a business looking to open within the former Uchiha compound.
Immediately rejecting all courtship requests with a snort, he wrote a short note to inform his secretary to issue the traditional 'thanks-but-no-thanks' to the families that had made the requests. Despite pressure from the Konoha Council, the Uchiha had little inclination to marry or to engage in alternative arrangements in the aim of producing more Sharingan babies.
As far as Sasuke was concerned, he was and would always be the Last Uchiha. He already had made arrangements with the Hyuuga clan to put forth a replacement jinchuuriki upon his death, so there was no need to produce children for that particular reason, and he did not love Konoha enough to aid it in creating a clan of human weapons. It wasn't a concept Naruko would have approved of anyway.
Skimming over the details of the business that wished to open on his former clan grounds, Sasuke decided it looked respectable enough and stamped his approval. Calling for his secretary, he pressed the scrolls detailing his approval of the business and instructed her to send out refusals to all marriage proposals that were currently received and to please stop wasting his time by giving him the missives at all. It would suffice for her to automatically reject all of them.
Waving her away, he considered the request from the Sanada clan. Truly, they were minor nobles, only coming into hereditary lordship in the past few generations on the back of the current daimyo's great-grandfather's favour. The clan was fairly wealthy though, and had their fingers in mercantile ventures from Nami no Kuni to Tsuchi no Kuni. His appearance would surely show the favour of Konohagakure among the lesser nobility and the merchant class, and would not be likely to gain him enemies within the ranks of the older families. With a sigh, the Hokage drafted a short but formal acceptance letter, detailing his gratitude to be invited by such 'upstanding and prestigious individuals'.
The Uchiha Hokage was a former criminal and traitor, and really needed all the political aid he could get. His clan name wasn't worth much anymore, especially not after he declassified the truth of the Uchiha Massacre. Itachi had become a martyr, but the rest of the clan had become derided as traitors. Sasuke was merely considered one more in the line.
Turning his gaze to the letter from the Raikage's office, he frowned with displeasure. The man loathed him at the best of times and blamed him for both the death of his brother and the loss of his arm. Sasuke was surprised that the man had never stepped down after the injury, but was impressed that the man kept office by proving he was still truly deadly in the field. Ei was not in office because of political manoeuvring. Not that Ei had any real subtlety on his own part.
Despite our less than illustrious relationship and our history of personal enmity, I urge you to consider a course of action that may heal the rift between us. Our disagreements have been detrimental to the alliance between our villages and cannot continue to stand between us.
In response to the urging of the Kumogakure Council, I am willing to concede forgiveness to your injury upon my person if you willing consider a joining between our two families. My eldest daughter is an accomplished kunoichi only slightly younger than you. I do believe that regardless of your personal misgivings, you two may reach an accord and some measure of affection.
Consider this the formal request for a courtship between you and my daughter.
Yondaime Raikage of Kumogakure.
Sasuke flopped back into his chair with narrow eyes. This sort of outreach from Ei was unprecedented. Frowning, Sasuke folded his arms across his chest. He was well aware of the political games he as the Hokage was immersed in, and there was value in both what a person said and what they didn't say.
The Raikage said he would forgive Sasuke's injury to his person, but not his injury to his village or his injury to his brother, which the Raikage considered far more worthy of hatred than his own 'mere' arm.
Pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation, the Uchiha considered the pros and cons of a positive response. Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the missive, before he sighed with exasperation. He had precious little to gain with this and everything to lose. A positive response would net him only dates with a woman that likely already despised him, but a negative response could be taken as an insult and be grounds for weakening or even destroying the current relationship between their villages.
I have made it a general point in my interactions with others to refuse all proposals out of principle. I am of the sincere belief that the Uchiha clan is truly accursed. However, I cannot ignore the possibly of reconciliation between us.
Therefore, in the interest of Konohagakure and Kumogakure's relationship and the promotion of peace, I am willing to concede to a courtship between your daughter and I. If there is compatibility between her and I, then perhaps we will be willing to consider further proposals.
Rokudaime Hokage of Konohagakure.
Sealing his affirmative with the official seal of the Hokage, Sasuke glared at the response and wished that Ei would drop dead. The man was well aware of what position such a request would put him in, and likely only went along with it for that reason. The Uchiha doubted this courtship would get any further than a series of very uncomfortable meetings and dates, but it would still be annoying as hell to have to deal with.
Rolling up the scroll, he tied it off with the traditional red silk-string of his office before summoning a messenger hawk to relay it to the Raikage. Calling for a strong herbal tea, the Hokage settled back down to finish off the paperwork he had left abandoned the night before.
Processing mission reports always tired him out and reminded him too strongly of his own losses and stupidity. As he finished filing all S and A ranked reports he was interrupted by his secretary.
"Hokage-sama, the Kazekage has arrived." The women stood at the door, a blank look on her face but a slight amount of concern in her brown eyes. It was impossible to work for someone for so long and not achieve a modicum of regard for his well-being, especially given the obvious signs of stress in Sasuke's appearance.
Rising to his feet silently, the Uchiha slid his chair in before departing to the conference room.
To say that Sabaku no Gaara considered the Hokage an annoyance was a vast understatement.
Gaara hated Sasuke with every fibre of his morally-upright being, and the only reason he had not smeared the man into blood and paste was because of his respect of Naruko's lingering affection for the man and the sincere regret the Uchiha wore like a shroud everywhere he went. The Kazekage recognized the hypocrisy of his own feelings, but emotions were rarely logical.
Crossing his arms, Gaara stared at the Hokage with distaste. As much as he truly hated to admit it, the robes did suit the man. It was a point in the Uchiha's favour that he didn't emblazon his clan emblem onto the back of the traditional robes, since it spoke of his loss of the arrogance that had accompanied him in his earlier days.
The Rokudaime Hokage's face was pale and wan, drawn with frown lines reminiscent of the late Uchiha Itachi. Taking in the bruised purple skin that seemed burned into Sasuke's eye-sockets, Gaara allowed himself to feel the slightest inkling of pity. It was obvious that before him stood a tortured and condemned man, and while Gaara would have willingly done the deed himself and offed the man, he had no taste for the torturous living death the Rokudaime consigned himself to. If the Uchiha had gone and committed seppuku, the Kazekage wouldn't have held it against him.
"Kazekage-dono". Polite and dry as always. Sasuke showed very little emotions at the best of times.
"Hokage-dono" he replied neutrally.
"Yo, Gaara!" Inuzuka Kiba burst in the room. At the age of twenty-five, the Inuzuka clan head was just as shaggy and feral as he had ever been. Boisterous and loud, he strongly reminded Gaara of what Naruko had been like years ago. The clan head had toned down his the brashness of his youth in official functions, but he was personally familiar enough with the Kazekage not to bother.
"Kiba." Gaara favoured him with a nod and a small smile.
Turning to the third Konoha shinobi as she entered the room, Gaara inclined his head and uttered a respectful "Hyuuga-sama".
Mimicking the motion, the head of the Hyuuga clan greeted him. Hyuuga Hanabi glided through the room and took a seat at the far end of the meeting table, preferring to sit at the end and not beside the Hokage she considered personally responsible for her elder sister's death.
Sinking into his own seat across from the Kazekage, the Uchiha nodded to the foreign leader's siblings in greeting.
Temari merely glanced away as a subtle snub and Kankuro gave him a curt nod in return. The Kazekage's relatives blamed him for the death of a close friend, and the Hokage could hardly blame them. If he had switched sides earlier, there was much that could have been avoided.
Kiba plopped down in the seat next to the brunette and grinned roguishly across at Temari, who scowled back. Married to Shikamaru several years ago, the woman hardly appreciated the Inuzuka's occasional flirt; though she did know he truly didn't actually mean anything by it.
Kankuro glared at the clan head with a look that clearly said piss-off-and-leave-my-sister-be. Kiba only gave a sharp bark of laughter before ordering one of the chuunin guards standing by the door to fetch him some water.
"We are gathering here today to recognize a further deepening of ties between the villages of Konohagakure and Sunagakure," Sasuke droned blandly. "To this end, we have drafted a free-trade agreement in regards to ninja equipment and foodstuffs. Recognized items are…"
Tuning out the speech he really didn't give a crap about, Kiba turned to stare at his deceased teammate's sister. Hanabi hardly could contain the look of distaste on her face for their leader. It kind of annoyed Kiba, really. The Inuzuka was hardly a fan of Sasuke's, but he didn't lay blame where blame wasn't due either. Hinata had been a dear friend of his, and there might have been the possibility of something more there after he had worn the Hyuuga clan elders down over the years. Sadly, before he had made any true progress on that front at all, the heiress had perished on a bad mission. Kiba had been absolutely pissed and prepared to murder the Hokage but-
("Do you truly think that Hinata would have wanted you to commit high treason and murder someone that the woman she had admired considered her best friend? Regardless of Uchiha Sasuke's personal failings as a person, he is not to blame in this case. It was a bad mission, and there was little the Hokage could have done for the matter. Be thankful he was able to recover Hinata's body before someone desecrated it in the name of science or stole her Byakugan.")
Damn Aburame always had to deal with everything in life with the cool logic of his.
Kiba wasn't an Inuzuka shinobi for nothing though, as he could smell the distress that Shino had been feeling. And if Shino - someone who had cared about Hinata as much as Kiba had, regardless of how he had shown it - could not hold it against the Hokage, then the Inuzuka had decided it was best to step back and rethink it.
The Inuzuka Clan Leader was glad he had. Once he'd stopped trying to hate Sasuke for every bad thing that happened to the village and the Konoha Twelve, he could really see the man.
Drifting around like a ghost at all hours of the day, spending his nights at the Monument, and working so mechanically that he had seemed to conquer the paperwork that plagued every Hokage prior, Inuzuka came to a conclusion: He couldn't hate Sasuke anymore. He pitied him really.
It was obvious that whatever kept the man going wasn't something that was going to keep him happy.
"…Items that we will be considering contraband are…"
But shit, Hanabi didn't see it that way. Neither did Tenten or Lee. Neji was coolly polite, but he wasn't fond of Sasuke. Naruko was dead and six feet under. So was Sakura for that matter. Shikamaru didn't hate the Hokage per se, but he was definitely not a friend of his. Chouji and Ino couldn't even be bothered to give him the time of day.
The only ones remaining from the Hokage's childhood that didn't try to make his lot miserable were Shino and Kiba, and maybe Shikamaru. Sasuke was incredibly alone.
Kiba didn't have the patience to try and be his friend, and he doubted that the Uchiha would want him to. But he could see that the raven did appreciate his neutrality to him, and sometimes his antics could garner him a very slight reduction in the tension that followed the Rokudaime wherever he went.
"Any objections?" Sasuke finished.
"No, Hokage-dono." Gaara replied.
Then Sasuke signed both copies of the trade treaty, before passing them to the redhead, who did the same. Kankuro leaned over and signed the slips, followed by Temari. The blonde slid them back across to Kiba, who inked his name before pushing them down to Hanabi.
After the Hyuuga affixed her signature as the last witness, she rolled up both copies and passed one to each village leader. The Hokage stood up and strode to the door.
"I don't know why he doesn't just kill himself, everyone knows Naruko-" the brunette puppeteer muttered under his breath.
"Kankuro!" The Kazekage hissed, "Shut up!"
By the slight stiffening of his shoulders, it was obvious to the Inuzuka that the Uchiha had heard the remark. But instead of even attempting to reject the accusation, he simply left the room.
Which totally wasn't healthy at all.
"What the fuck is your problem?" Kiba growled at the Suna-nin, who drew back with a defensive glare.
"Oh shut it! You know it's true."
"That's irrelevant! I won't have you endangering our relations with other villages, Kankuro!" The redhead spat. Temari just crossed her arms and glared at the table.
"I agree with him." Hanabi replied from the end. "He's caused a lot of death over the years."
The Inuzuka shot to his feet and favoured the Hyuuga with a heated look. "Will you piss off? Hinata was my teammate too, but you can't just fucking blame him for something he had shit all to do with!" then he departed with a slam of the door.
"Well that was interesting." Temari finally uttered sarcastically.
Drifting through the hallways of the Hokage Tower, Sasuke found it incredibly difficult to quiet the voices in his mind.
(Your fault your fault Come it's all my fault she's dead because of you I can they're all dead give you your brother is dead your your team is dead your HEART desire is deaddeadeadeadDEAD)
Clenching his fists hard enough that his nails dug into the skin and blood welled up on his palms, Sasuke stopped in the first abandoned hallway he found and leaned his face against the wall. He felt unbearably hot suddenly, and the cool plaster pressing against his flushed skin was heavenly.
"Shit man, you okay?"
It was Inuzuka. "Yes, I'm fine." He replied neutrally. The Inuzuka-nin gave him a look that suggested he was being particularly dense before grabbing the treaty scroll from his pocket.
"I'm just going to run this down to the archives. Why don't you go home or something?" The man suggested and took off before his Hokage could order him otherwise.
"What am I supposed to do Naruko?" he whispered to the empty corridor. "I can't survive this…"
"Come to me and I will give you what you desire."
Shoving the demon's voice back, Sasuke took a shuddering breath. That was twice in one day, which meant his mental discipline was slipping. He needed to go meditate. Emotional turmoil when one was host to a demon was extremely unhealthy for the host and dangerous for those around it.
Thus resolved, Sasuke meandered through the Tower until he found the nearest chuunin. Curtly informing the women that he was taking the rest of the day off and ordering her to inform his secretary, he left the stunned girl in the hall for the nearest window.
Taking off through the opening and over the rooftops, the Hokage felt lucky enough that he had no more meetings that day.
Sasuke didn't know if he could take much more of it.
Almost against his will, he ended up at the Naka Shrine of the Uchiha clan. It wasn't exactly a place with the fondest memories of his, being both a reminder of his tragic childhood and the location where his clan had planned their traitorous coup d'état.
But it was his, property of him and his cursed clan. No one ever bothered him there, save the occasional ANBU in times of emergency.
Gliding through the faded red arches and up the weather-beaten steps of the temple, Sasuke breathed in the cool, free air of the forest. Almost against his will, he felt his tensed shoulders relax and a measure of peace come over him. If not for his obligations, he idly wondered if he might have ended up a monk. It was a slightly amusing thought, that one whose entire childhood had been consumed by ambition to be the strongest shinobi would be able to long for quiet halls and mist on the mountainside.
Sasuke's favorite concept had been "power". Itachi's had been "peace". The crux of their differences when the Fourth Shinobi World War began. Two brothers with completely different views of the world. The Curse of Hatred and the Will of Fire. But eventually Sasuke had his eyes replaced with Itachi's.
Sasuke wondered whose view of the world he was seeing now.
Ignoring the scent of dampness in the air, Sasuke lit the candles in the abandoned shrine with a minor Katon jutsu. Throwing the room into relief, the mahogany floor reflected a slight golden sheen while the roof stretched away into darkness. Lighting the incense burner, Sasuke knelt before the statue of some forgotten kami.
Eventually the smell of the burning incense filled the air with a hint of lavender and sage. Closing his eyes and settling his hands into his lap, Sasuke turned his focus inward.
Sasuke opened his eyes to a dark and dank sewer.
It was so very akin to the way that Naruko's seal had been when he had invaded her mindscape almost a decade ago. Sasuke wondered if every jinchuuriki's seal resembled a sewer by default or if it said something about the state of his and Naruko's minds.
"So you come, Uchiha." The tailed beast growled, ten bulging eyes glaring red in the darkness.
"So I come." the Hokage confirmed, before checking the bars and the seal array holding the gates closed. It wasn't as perfect as Naruko's had been, but he hardly expected it to be. Firstly, Naruko's father had been a sealing master of unparalleled skill. And secondly, no seal - not even that of the shinigami - could hold the collective entirety of the bijuu after the death of the host. The Hokage had decided it a waste to sacrifice the lives of his ninja to create an unbreakable seal for only his lifetime, especially when this less-effective one could be supplemented by his willpower and his Eternal Mangekyou to the point that it would make little to no difference.
Spotting rust crawling up several of the bars and the slight bent in a few of the others, Sasuke directed his chakra into repairing them back into the shape they held several weeks ago. It was really a chore, he decided with a small amount of exasperation.
"I can give you your heart's desire."
Sasuke ignored the beast, concentrating on fixing its cage so he could leave and sleep. It seemed the expense of mental energy in repairing the seal tired his mind to the point where his body could enjoy a full night's rest without being plagued by nightmares.
"Your friends. I can bring them back."
"Shut up!" The Hokage hissed, not pleased with the beast's prodding of his weak points. The dead were dead, and that was it.
"Oh? So you didn't know that the Rinnegan can reject death? That it could be used to revive the fallen?"
"Shut up and stop lying!" Sasuke snapped, determining that the gates were prepared enough. Whirling in place, he stalked away in a rage.
"Silly little ningen. Demons don't lie. Tell half-truths and give false implications. But we cannot outright lie."
The Rokudaime froze in place. It was a common factor to demonic legends. He felt foolish for having forgotten. Slowly turning around, he pinned the demon with a dark glare. "So you're saying that you can give me the Rinnegan?"
"Yes." The demon perked, all malicious cunning now that its container was listening to it.
"And the Rinnegan can bring the dead back?"
Narrowing his eyes, he spotted the half-truth and exposed the demon's plan.
"Can the Rinnegan bring Naruko back?" Silence was his response. "Can it?" Sasuke pressed.
Snarling and bashing against its cage, the bijuu finally growled out "No".
"So you can hardly give me what my heart desires then." The Rokudaime answered curtly before turning to the exit. Just steps before he left the inner world, the demon howled at him "Wait!"
"Oh?" he looked over his shoulder with a quirked brow.
"There is… another way." The Juubi hissed out, voice low and sibilant.
Facing about fully, the Uchiha crossed his arms and stared at the demon impassively. "Speak then".
"I am an existence of pure living chakra. Using my energy, you will be able tear your soul from this mortal coil and throw it back through the fabric of time."
"What happens to this world?" Sasuke muttered after a moment's pause.
"It ceases to exist".
"And my memories?" he demanded. "Do I keep them or lose them?"
"They remain with you."
"And my body?"
"Can I obtain a body?"
"Seek out your living locus, you can merge with that soul and take over his body."
"So I'm essentially going to have to go back and kill my past counterpart to steal his body?"
The Rokudaime frowned. It seemed too good to be true. And it likely was. But still…
"What happens to you?"
Here the demon seemed to hesitate. "I am split into my nine counterparts and merged with them."
Blinking in surprise, the Uchiha asked incredulously "Why would you want to do that?" Snorting at him, the Juubi motioned to its cage.
"I have no desire to remain here for eternity, held by jinchuuriki after jinchuuriki. By going back, there is always the chance that you might fail and I reform free. Even if you succeed, I will likely eventually reform. And I won't be conscious for the interim. It would be like going to sleep and waking up free. I would rather make a deal with one of Hagoromo's filthy get than experience however many mortal lifetimes it would be before I taste freedom again."
Self-serving and destructive. "I see why you'd be for this plan then. At least you won't be waiting twenty generations for freedom."
The bijuu grinned at him, all fangs.
Stalking over to the cage, Sasuke glared up at the beast.
"Do we have a deal then? Release me and I will do this thing for you."
Could he really do it? For all intents and purposes Sasuke would be destroying the victory they had fought so hard for. Obito would be resurrected, and it would be another race to complete or destroy the Eye of the Moon plan. The Uchiha Hokage didn't kid himself about the ease of it either. Obito was intelligent and cunning. A genius on or near the level of Shikamaru. A master manipulator. Was he brave enough to go up against that again? Further, was Sasuke greedy enough for his own comfort to take a chance at losing and causing the destruction of the shinobi world?
Uchiha Sasuke was never a true coward, and if there was one thing he had always been, it was selfish.
"We have a deal. You send me far enough back to have a reasonable chance of saving Naruko and defeating Obito. Not merely a fraction of a moment in which to save her or fight him."
"So be it." the demon narrowed its eyes at the Hokage.
With a trembling hand, Sasuke reached up and tore the paper seal from the door of the cage.
White-hot agony rose through him from the very depths of his being, until his mind was totally insensitive to all rational thought process. It was obliterating. Reality screamed and the universe crumbled. Time ran backwards, with a jerk his soul tore loose from its home. Sasuke knew no more.
Fifteen year old Uzumaki Naruko woke up screaming.
Jiraiya burst through the door of her hotel room, hands already flying into seals. Stopping on the threshold after he automatically assessed the lack of danger, he lowered his hands with a sigh and took in the pale and shaking girl on the bed.
An old worn hand threaded into her messy blonde hair with fatherly affection. Pulling her knees up to her chest, Naruko wrapped her arms around them and attempted to ignore the strange burning from her seal. Another sigh; and the old man's hand stroked her head. "Naruko." Jiraiya murmured, and she shook. "Naruko." The sennin repeated with a little more force, attracting the attention of Naruko's tear-swollen eyes.
"Y-yeah…" her voice was tired and raspy from the screaming.
Her godfather gave a slight frown before rubbing his eyes. "I don't know what you dreamed about this time Naruko, but it'll be fine. Your friends won't leave you, we can beat Akatsuki, and the Uchiha should still be alive." Jiraiya listed the assurances to her more traditional nightmares that he'd heard of in one form of another since they began traveling together several years past.
Another stroke and the calloused hand withdrew. "Get some rest, Naruko, we'll be in Konoha in three weeks". The padding of Jiraiya's feet trailed over to the door, sliding the screen closed and leaving her alone in the dark room.
Naruko slowly uncoiled, settling back into her sleeping roll. One hand came up to absently run over the seal on her stomach, tracing the lines that were no longer burning. They still felt abnormally warm. Whatever that dream had been, it wasn't on the reel of her more frequent night horrors.
Frowning, Naruko crossed her arms behind her head and stared up at the ceiling.
Naruko remained in that position until the night fled and the warm of the sun shone through her window. Unnoticed and unseen through it all, the soul of Uchiha Sasuke stood at the foot of her roll and watched the blonde. A small smile curled his face with affection.
The dobe still wore those kami awful toad-patterned pyjamas after all. He idly wondered if she would wear them to the end of her life. The end of her second life that was, since Sasuke had no intention of letting this one end as early as the last had.
Knowing he had little time to waste, Sasuke finally moved from her feet up to her head. Kneeling down, he stared into her tired and pensive face. The Uchiha ran an insubstantial hand over her cheek, leaning in and whispering into her ear "Would that I could wipe away those tears…"
Naruko shivered, feeling strangely close to Sasuke at that moment.
Sasuke drew back warily. Examining the two threads that grew from his chest with a considering look; he wondered if her strange reaction had anything to do with them. One, gold and thrumming with energy and purpose stretched across the room and out the door. Grasping it with his hand, he was filled with the feeling of hatred and cold determination. It reminded him strongly of him as he would have been at this stage in his life.
He knew instinctively that it would lead him to his host body and the past self Sasuke would need to murder.
The other thread ran red as blood from his heart to hers, and his lips curled with amusement. Wrapping his hand around it, he was overwhelmed with a feeling so warm and uniquely Naruko that he drew in a sharp breath instinctively.
The girl on the futon arched, eyes fluttering wide, and she gasped. "Sasuke…?" Naruko's blue eyes darted across the room, focusing suspiciously on the closed window before she settled back down and shut her eyes.
Withdrawing his hand with a jerk, Sasuke closed it into a fist and ignored the tingling in his palm. Then he gave a bitter chuckle. "I guess Obito was right after all, Naruko. We have always been destined to be brought together again and again."
Rising to his feet, Sasuke took the gold thread in hand and followed it to the door. Full of power and purpose, he grinned.
"Though I suppose the nature of that meeting, whether in friendship or conflict or love, was always up to us."
Then he was out in the hall of the country inn, ignoring the traditional architecture and wooden hallways. Striding through the corridors, Sasuke passed through several people on his way out.
Sasuke didn't need to breathe in this form, but there was something so incredibly comforting about stepping outside into the grass, the glister of morning dew stretching out around him. Wind whistled through the trees, and he took off down the forest path like a dark dream.
There were many things he had to do, and little time in which to achieve it. But for the first time in years, Sasuke had hope and a purpose.
He would save her.
Winding through the dark passages of an Otogakure base, the Uchiha frowned in displeasure.
Sasuke's sixteen year old self led the way through the darkness, unaware that a desperate ghost followed behind at his heels. The boy occasionally muttered to himself about Itachi, and the older Sasuke could only shake his head with displeasure.
Disregarding the boy's misguided vengeance, had he really been that totally obsessed?
The memory of blood punching through a twelve year old girl's chest and mad laughter flashed through his mind. Sasuke sighed with resignation. Yes, he truly had been that obsessed. With a last glance at his younger self, Sasuke drifted away.
It wouldn't do for the boy to collapse in the hallway when Sasuke took his body. Better to wait for later on in the night when he was sleeping before making his move.
Re-familiarizing himself with the beaten stone ruins that made up Orochimaru's latest hideaway, the Uchiha searched for the library that Orochimaru would have undoubtedly set up.
Finding the grey steel vault that the Sennin preferred to guard his libraries with, Sasuke stared at the door. Sasuke tapped his fingers on his pant leg, coming to the decision that it would be best to scout the area out now, before returning to claim his new vessel.
Ghosting through the door with his formal Hokage robes aflutter, the Uchiha was greeted by the sight of reams upon reams of scrolls stuffed into cubby holes built into the stone walls. Tracking his gaze across to the desk that would contain some of Orochimaru's more sensitive documents, the former Hokage stopped and blinked in surprise.
"Well would you look at that," Sasuke muttered. "It's the old snake himself."
Orochimaru looked deceptively young, white skin unmarked by wrinkles or age spots. But the Uchiha could easily see the rot eating up the elder man from within. His face was drawn and his eyes glazed. The snake couldn't even be bothered to properly affix his outfit. Orochimaru's shirt was rumpled and the purple string was tied about his waist haphazardly.
His body was rejecting him. The sennin would need a new body soon. Too bad that Sasuke didn't intend to allow him one.
The scientist was inking out something one several pieces of paper, and curiously Sasuke drew up to the man's side. Peering over his shoulder, the Uchiha was unable to stop the slow wicked grin as he read the files Orochimaru was updating.
It was completely expected that the snake would keep track of his old comrades in the Akatsuki. The look of distaste on Orochimaru's face as he wrote out new details in Itachi's file was especially amusing. Sasuke didn't doubt that he was remembering his defeat at the elder Uchiha's hand when he tried to steal his body.
Breaking out into coughs, Orochimaru covered his mouth and heaved. Once the fit subsided, the Hebi Sennin ignored his burning lungs and flicked his hand to the side. The blood that had been coughed up splattered on the floor, and the man frowned. Shaking his head, Orochimaru rose to his feet and departed, intent on returning to his rooms to rest. He'd need to take Sasuke-kun's body soon.
Sasuke watched the Sennin leave the library, frowning before turning to examine the file folders that had been left out on the desk. As soon as he took his new host body, Sasuke would need to move against Orochimaru. The man was sickly, and Sasuke knew all of his weaknesses. But Orochimaru was still an S-ranked nukenin, and a dangerous enemy to Naruko's Konoha.
Reaching out towards the meticulously organized folders, Sasuke scowled as his hand passed through the paper and into the desk. Growling with annoyance, the Uchiha straightened before clamping his hand on the gold thread extending from his chest.
Following the thread back through the maze of corridors, he sidled up behind his younger counterpart and proceeded to tail that boy for the remainder of the day. The younger Sasuke truly didn't have many hobbies, only stopping his training to eat and use the toilet.
As night fell and the younger Sasuke ceased his daily training, the elder Sasuke shivered with anticipation. Soon he would be corporal again, and he had many goals to accomplish. There were so many things to be put into motion, and the anticipation of it burned through his spirit. Mind spinning with calculation, he waited as the younger boy showered and collapsed into bed.
Eventually, the boy's breathing evened out, and the elder Sasuke took the moment to truly examine the younger.
In sleep, his face had smoothed out of his customary scowl and into something more innocent. Pale skin and dark hair framed an aristocratic face with a narrow nose and pale pink lips. A lean, muscular frame spoke of strength and power. Objectively, the specimen before him was a handsome individual.
Contrary to the relaxed appearance of his younger counterpart, the elder Sasuke was paler with raven hair interspersed with strands of grey. Purple bruising lined his eye sockets and his lips were chapped and red. His tall frame was stretched and thin, hands unhealthily bony. There was too much weight on his shoulders.
Drawing back, Sasuke considered the morality of what he was about to do. He would be destroying his younger self, breaking down and absorbing the boy until only he remained. Heaving a sigh, the Uchiha rubbed his eyes before resolving himself.
Bony fingers reached out to coil around the teenager's pale throat.
"Sorry brat, I need this body more than you do."
He squeezed, and with a snap of vertigo and the feeling of not-quite-there, the elder Sasuke vanished.
The teenager on the bed took a deep breath, rising from the depths of sleep with a shudder. Snapping his eyes open, the Uchiha glared at the ceiling.
Twin Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan burned in the darkness.
(AN): Well there's the first chapter edited through. After editing, I found the word count around 6900. So I had to rush back through it again and throw a few words in here and there to meet my 7000 minimum.
On Naruko - Some of my older readers have probably caught the name change. As mentioned in Deadlock, much of my initial revulsion for the name Naruko was based on the idea that it was just fanon being fanon and butchering Naruto's name into something meaningless to try and make it feminine. However, since it means "Roaring Light" rather than gibberish, I've decided I have no problem adopting it.
On the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan - I realize that the EMS is unlocked by implanting the eyes of a person with a Mangekyou into someone else with a Mangekyou. However, this explanation is lacking. Relying solely on biological terms the explanation for EMS may be that it is a mutation of someone else's Mangekyou in your eyes. However, this fails to explain why Itachi's (whose eyes were pretty much blind) suddenly become crystal clear when they get implant in Sasuke (unless the mutation includes instant regeneration). If we rely solely on biology, there is little to no reason why the entire clan couldn't have doped up on depressants to produce the special chakra for their eyes and then traded eyes. Mangekyou for everyone!
As far as this fic goes, kekkei genkai are the result of mutations in the DNA of a shinobi. However, the Rinnegan is something more than just a kekkei genkai. We can see this in its abilities regarding life, death, the soul, gravity, ect. The Uchiha Clan ancestor inherited the Rikudo Sennin's "eyes". These "eyes" would later evolve into the Sharingan. Because of this, the Sharingan is more than just a kekkei genkai. We see this in its crazy abilities. The Senju clan ancestor eventually spawned Senju Hashirama and his Mokuton. Mokuton is also more than just a kekkei genkai. This is visible in the effects of them on tailed beasts, which are basically mythical demons.
Because the Sharingan is more than just another kekkai genkai, it has a spiritual element absent in regular kekkei genkai. The Mangekyou is not a manifestation of biology, but rather the result of the soul-deep agony of murdering someone you love. This spiritual agony is responsible for the Mangekyou. This agony is spiritual, giving rise to the special mutating chakra permanently. An Uchiha could transplant any old Sharingan into his eyes after manifesting Mangekyou, and still have access to his Mangekyou.
The Eternal Mangekyou is not a mutation, but the result of implanting someone else's manifestation of agony in addition to your own (someone else's Mangekyou in your sockets). Because of this, you take part of them and their power ("I can feel Itachi's power flowing through me.") into you. This transplant of power that is caused by implanting someone else's agony into you is what manifests the EMS. This transplant of power (of soul!) alters the special Uchiha chakra, causing the regeneration of Itachi's eyes is Sasuke's sockets. However, in this explanation it is still possible to trade Mangekyou with someone and both get Eternal Mangekyou. I wonder why they didn't do that in the manga?
As it relates to this fic: Sasuke still has Mangekyou because he still killed Itachi and carries that pain with him. He has Eternal Mangekyou because he took Itachi's eyes and made Itachi a part of him, and this persists even after death and into his new body. Only reincarnation could wipe away those marks on his soul.