My name is Uchiha Fugaku.
I am forty years old.
And I am dying.
In retrospect, I should have seen this coming. There was no way the Uchiha clan could have overtaken Konoha. Even if we have more power, they have more people. Quantity over quality. Our kekkei genkai is quite powerful, but Sharingan no Kakashi, as much as I am loathe to admit it, is one of its best users. And he is nothing if not loyal to the leaf.
Then again, hindsight is always 20/20. Grand speeches and verbosity got most of the Uchiha to join with me. Those speeches deluded them, but so did they delude me.
Mikoto groans beside me. Out of the corner of my eye I can just barely make out Inabi, one of the most loyal, contorted in an unnatural and presumably quite painful position. I don't want to see anything anymore, so I close my eyes. Let me spend my last few minutes on this Earth in blissful darkness, rather than lying outside my own house, with my traitorous, precious, horrible son clutching the bloody sword that did me in stalking about.
Sasuke is nowhere to be seen. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Itachi loves no one more than his brother, and if he were to spare anyone, it would most certainly be Sasuke. Who would then be left alone, to stew in thoughts and drown in misery that would probably either end in a bottle of sake and sleeping pills, or on some futile quest for revenge. He's an Uchiha; our love for revenge is almost as great as our love for mind games.
I can feel my life slipping away by the second. Yomi will be no great relief. From the pain, for sure, but not from much else. There has been a little said of a religion, far away, whose believers think that the afterlife is a paradise, but Yomi is the opposite. Well, perhaps that is a bit strong: it's no shadowy pit of torment. Rather, just a dismal plain in which the dead spend their eternity.
"Goodbye, Fugaku," whispers my wife. I feel her feathery touch on my skin.
"Goodbye, Mikoto," I whisper back. Then her hand falls away, and I know that she is no longer. I also know that I am not to live much longer.
And just like that, I can no longer feel my body. I don't want to see the no doubt horribly gloomy Yomi, but at the same time, something is calling to me to look. So I do.
…and I am in a room which looks nothing like any interpretation of the afterlife I have ever read. There are three women seemingly unconscious (or perhaps dead themselves) on the floor, each clad in white robes.
"Where am I?" I demand. Surely this is a result of some kami playing tricks…why, I have no idea, but it is quite irritating nonetheless.
"Shh," says an unseen voice. It is familiar, just enough to be recognizable, but not enough to place. "You won't believe the amount of work I've had to do for this."
"For what?" I say, in a far softer tone than before. The person/being/kami behind this is undoubtedly quite powerful-and thus, someone I don't want to make angry.
"Giving you a second chance," says the voice. I start to compose a reply, but before I can, everything is spinning, and I can see blurs of various lands, all different than before. One seems like the description of Yomi I have read, and then it comes to me. That was someone else's afterlife, and so are all of these. One has winged creatures, the next men fighting bloody battles, and all are very strange.
Then I can feel my body again. Except it's not. The subtle pains of oncoming middle age are gone. Then I notice my surroundings. I am in a hospital room, evident from the white walls and the lab-coated doctor in front of me. The person lying on the bed is screaming.
Peering closer, I realise that person is Mikoto. And she is not the Mikoto of earlier either-she's younger, (dare I say) prettier, and, oddly, plumper. A split second later the doctor is holding a baby. A boy, crying loudly, as babies do.
The man turns to me, smiling genially.
"Congratulations, you're a father," he says, before handing the child to the nurse.
Being as self-disciplined as I am, I don't gape, but I am shocked nonetheless. A second chance…I had assumed that meant going back to when I first started planning the coup, but apparently I was wrong.
For that newborn my son is Itachi. It is hard to reconcile this scene with that of the one I was in but a few minutes (seemingly) earlier. The overly loyal, overly adult, scowling, mocking thirteen year old, full of scornful laughter, with the infant currently being swaddled by a nurse. The picture of innocence. A second chance, not only to be a better clan head, but also a better parent.
It is all like a dream. I have wished for something like this before, when Itachi told me of his latest terrible mission in a terrible monotone, when I found myself yelling at Sasuke for not being good enough. To actually have it happen is…it's indescribable.
Mikoto smiles at me tiredly, and I cannot help but remember her last words to me. I will not let that happen again. Perhaps I will even be able to prevent the Kyuubi attack from happening, stop Madara (as even I know it was him responsible) in his tracks, make it so no one would have a reason to suggest a coup. (Then again, we had always been marginalised…)
No, no, no whispers my mind. Don't think about that. Your son was just born. Be happy.
I am rarely happy, but right now I am full of joy. Everything is beautiful. Nothing hurts.
Life, for the first time in what seems like forever, is good.
My name is Uchiha Fugaku.
I am twenty seven years old.
And I am living.