It was interesting meeting the rest of the Konoha 12. They were just so different than his friends back home. There was Naruto, so happy go lucky here with a goofy grin plaster on his face compared to Menma's seriousness. Kiba and Akamaru here were the best of friends and he loudly and angrily declared that he hated all cats. His Kiba would have been sad about that. Shino was quiet in this world as well, but he wasn't freaking out about having bugs around him. The Shino back home always carried some heavy duty bug spray with him and systematically murdered his clan bugs every chance he got. Tenten was so easy going compared to her die-hard counterpart who would practice hours on end (she had sucky aim). The only time he ever really saw her was when the Konoha 12 did some kind of group activity like going to the hot springs or something.
Sasuke shifted his eyes to the other side of the table. Choji was… plump and had a soft aura about him. Things just rolled off of him like water on a rain cloak. The Choji he knew was always so serious and…mean. He spent half of the day in the weight room, pumping iron and drinking nasty protein drinks to buff up. Next to him was Shikamaru, the smartest person at the table. Lazy, but brilliant. Shikamaru back home was a witless wonder who was always eating BBQ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He and Choji here looked like they were best friends. Choji back home seemed like it took a lot of effort to tolerate simple minded Shikamaru.
"Greetings Youthful comrades!" Sasuke turned expecting to see hyper active Kakashi, but it was someone else. Lee. He raised his brows, looking at him from head to toe in a skin tight green jumpsuit. Lee here was…a guy? But he was! He was tall and manly and smelled of sweat and peppermint. Lee in his dimension was a girl who tried to act tough like a guy. And she had a massive crush on Neji.
There was something that died in him when the Hyugas arrived together. Neji and Hinata…his heart felt sad when he was introduced to them. Back home, he and Neji were best friends. Neji was an adventurous peeper that took advantage of his Byakugan ability every chance he got to spy on hot women. They would go 'hunting' together, sometimes even sharing a room with three or four girls for the night. They were notorious and inseparable. When they were together, everything just seemed funnier. He and Menma were tight, but his relationship with Neji was based on shared traits and likes. But this Neji…he was so…so…uptight and proper. He politely pulled a chair from a table close by for Hinata to sit on. His mouth was in a frown, looking like he would rather be anyplace but here. When Sasuke greeted him, Neji just gave a little haughty nod in his direction, arranging his robes so that they fell perfectly.
And then there was Hinata…shy, stuttering, sweet Hinata that didn't have an ounce of the fire her counterpart had. Hinata back home was a sexy, arrogant wet dream on legs. A lot like the Ino here, he thought distractedly. It was like the Ino back home and the Hinata here just swapped personalities. And he could tell right away that Hinata here had a maddening crush on Naruto as well. She wore clothes that covered every inch of her and never made direct eye contact with him. Her eyes would stray shyly in Naruto's direction but the blonde didn't even notice.
Broody Sasuke sat at the end of the table, moodily sipping on something and answering questions directed at him with absolute disinterest. He kept looking at the door, keeping an eye out for Ino and Sakura's arrival. Sasuke was waiting as well but was getting anxious every second. After he answered questions, he stood up and stretched. Broody Sasuke watching him like a hawk, but it didn't faze him a bit (well maybe just a little). While he enjoyed meeting the Konoha 12, he was much more interested in the hot looking girls that kept shooting him flirty, heated gazes since his arrival. He sauntered to them, sliding easily next to a red head with playful emerald eyes and a cute bow mouth. She wasn't as pretty as Ino, but she would do for tonight.
"What are you drinking?"
Ino was tired, but Sakura talked her into dropping in at the get-together at Leaflet Tavern for a few minutes. Besides, her Sasuke was going to be there and she couldn't just leave him to the mercy of their jovial friends. When she entered, it gave her some relief from the warm summer night. There was chatter and laughter and Ino felt her mood lighten.
"They're over there." Sakura pulled on her hand, guiding her to the full table at the far side of tavern. Naruto, Kiba, Lee and Tenten were having a spirited conversation that had Naruto wildly waving his hands. Shikamaru, Choji, Hinata and Shino were opposite, quietly talking to one another (though it looked like Shikamaru was only pretending to listen). Neji was stubbornly folding his arms, keeping a close eye on his cousin and Sasuke looked like he wanted to leave as quickly as possible. She caught his eye and gave him a small comforting smile, raising a brow. Where is the other Sasuke?
He looked like he wanted to roll his eyes, but only gave a sharp glance at a table across the way. Playboy Sasuke was in the middle of a booth table with five girls surrounding him. He had his arms slung around the shoulders of the ones closest to him, relishing in all the attention. Seeing him doing what Naruto and Sakura warned her about made her shake her head, but the more she watching him, the more…
"Sakura!" Easy Going Sasuke finally noticed them watching him and squirmed his way from the group of girls to greet them. "Hey you finally made it." He grinned at Sakura. Ino raised a brow. What? No hello to her? She was standing right here damn it! If there was one thing Ino hated, it was being blatantly ignored. But she put aside her insulting anger briefly. What is he up to? She learned early on that playboys like Sasuke always played some kind of game. Still, the thought didn't make her ego feel a little better. She didn't want to let him win this.
"I'll talk to you later Sakura." She squeezed her best friend's hand and then left to the table, suppressing a smirk when she felt eyes on her back. She didn't know if it was Easy Going Sasuke, but she liked to think it was. She slid into the seat next to her Sasuke and grabbed his drink that he had a habit of nursing. It was chi tea and Ino wrinkled her nose at the strong cinnamon flavoring in it.
How long have you been here?
Ino smiled to herself. It took a good couple of months for her to be able to telepathically talk with Sasuke. With her team, it had been easier. Easier still with her father. But Sasuke had so many barriers around his mind that it took five months to get through them all. When they talked like this, it felt like there was no one in the world but them. She could do things in her mind that she couldn't do in public. Like mentally snuggling into his shoulder and sighing.
Pulling long hours again? He mentally put his arm around her shoulders and rested his chin on the top of her head.
We have to do drill after drill. I don't see the point in it. I'm not going to be in the medical tents for the war. They have me in a special combat unit. She practically whined, earning a mental squeeze from her Sasuke. On the outside, people could see her little pout. Sasuke was leaning into the table, looking bored and sharing his tea with her. They were barely touching, but mentally they were embracing.
"Whoa, look at that." Tenten nodded in the direction of the other Sasuke. "Sakura seems to be cozying up to him rather quickly." She cracked a smile. "It's weird huh? Seeing Sakura and Sasuke like this when all we ever see is you and Ino together." And Ino agreed. Seeing the other Sasuke and Sakura flirting openly over some drinks made her heart ache just a little. In her life, there had been only Sasuke. He was her first love, her first kiss, her first and only lover. There wasn't a time where they were never not with each other. She always believed that they were fated to be together, that in the entire world, it was destiny for her to love only him. But was that really true? Playboy Sasuke and the other Ino in their world weren't together so how true could it be that she and her Sasuke were like…soul mates?
She didn't like seeing him flirting with Sakura. She hated seeing him in the middle of those girls when she first entered the tavern. Most of all, she despised the idea that he didn't see her like her Sasuke saw her. He saw her as a conquest, not a true romantic interest. She didn't know why it was bothering her so much.
Because you like him. Ino's eyes widened and she turned to her Sasuke who was staring coldly at her.
"I don't." she said out loud. But Sasuke wasn't hearing it. He managed to climb over her, making the others at their table watch him in surprise. "Wait Sasuke." She grabbed his hand, but he shook it off and stalked out of the tavern. She stood up. "Sasuke!" She called out, hurrying out the door but by the time the warm summer night touched her face, he was gone.
He heard everything she was thinking, she thought in dismay. But it wasn't what he thought. I don't like Playboy Sasuke like that, it's just hard for me to see someone who looks exactly like my Sasuke flirting with other girls. It hurt her heart to see something like that because she would get lost in her doubts about stupid things. Like fate and destiny. She couldn't help that she was a romantic at heart!
"Hey." She stiffened when she heard a familiar tenor. She turned only to see soft dark eyes gaze at her in concern. "Why are you crying? Did that jerk say something mean to you?" Easy Going Sasuke used his thumbs to wipe the tears from her cheeks, his face hovering close to hers. She knew he wanted to kiss her.
"Don't." She moved her head to the side, avoiding it. His breath was in her ear.
"Why? Why him and not me?" He asked, his voice thin and breathy. "One night. One."
Ino closed her eyes, a new wave of sadness hitting her. "You're broken like my Sasuke. Just in a different way." She murmured, making him step back in shock. "In some ways, you guys are just alike." She sighed and looked up into the clear summer night sky. "How can you be happy with one night? One meaningless night? How can you settle for something so fleeting?" The door opened and they both turned to see Sakura standing there.
"Ino." She looked back and forth between the two. "Do you want me to walk you back to your house?"
She turned from Playboy Sasuke. "Thank you Sakura."
Sasuke took a step forward to join the girls, only to be yanked back. His flimsy shirt ripped under the force of their fingers and then he was slammed against the wall with blood red eyes peering into his.
"Let's talk." Broody Sasuke's voice sent shivers down his spine and he tried to lurch away, but Broody Sasuke smashed his back against the wall again making him bite his tongue to keep in a groan of pain.
"Sasuke." Both Sasukes turned to the new voice in the shadows. Sasuke felt immense relief when he saw it was Naruto. Broody Sasuke's hand unclenched his shirt, but he didn't let go.
"What do you want Naruto?" Broody Sasuke demanded. The blonde offered a hesitant smile, stepping close to them.
"Maybe you should remember what Grandma Hokage said, the first night he came here." He looked pointedly at the stern fists hanging onto Sasuke's red shirt. "That he remains somewhat safe for his return."
Sasuke stiffened more when Broody Sasuke's predatory red eyes locked onto his face. "He's not hurt. Are you?"
Sasuke wanted to scream that his back was killing him thank you very much and that Broody Sasuke's intent was smothering him but with Broody Sasuke unhidden threat hanging between them, he had to say otherwise. "I-I'm fine." He said, yanking his gaze from Dark Sasuke to a skeptical Naruto.
"See, he's fine. Leave us alone."
Sasuke wanted to yell at Naruto not to leave him at Dark Sasuke's mercy, but he was too afraid of what his counterpart would do to him. So he watched in silent despair as Naruto shook his head, but did as Broody Sasuke said and left. Sasuke struggled.
"Let go! I didn't do anything to her!" He defended. "You were the one who made her cry! Not me!" He tried to pry loose Dark Sasuke's fingers from the front of his shirt.
"Stop. I'm not going to hurt you." Moody Sasuke let go of his shirt with a disgusted sneer.
Sasuke took a step away from him. "Tch! Could have fooled me!" He yelled, rubbing his neck with a wince. "What do you want then?"
Dark Sasuke's eyes glowed red still, steadily focused on him. "To talk." He motioned him up to the roof with his head. "Come."
"Come." Sasuke mimicked, glaring at the shadow that easily jumped to the roof of the tavern. He looked around for a second and then with a huff he followed. They ended up on the far side of the village, where the store and house lights faded into the forest and the coolness of the grass and trees sapped some of the heat from the air. He was becoming more and more nervous the further they got away from the village. Maybe if he screamed loud enough, someone might hear him being killed, he thought in morbid sarcasm pushing away the fear. Dark Sasuke lived on fear, he thought, stopping a few feel from his counterpart.
"Was Ino really crying?" Sasuke almost didn't hear Dark Sasuke ask the question.
Sasuke scowled. "Yes. All because of you!" He accused, a hand to his waist. It made him wonder why seeing tears on Ino's beautiful face hit him so hard in the gut. Sasuke was no saint (apparently) and sometimes he wittingly and unwittingly made girls cry over him a time or two. Sometimes they didn't understand that all he wanted from them was sex and would go crazy when he left them the morning after. Too many times, he would see an ex-lover or two stare at him when he was walking the streets of Leaf. Some looked like they would cry again, some looked like they hated him, and some stared at him with longing. Tears didn't move him very much because he knew girls could produce them at will to try and trap him and make him feel guilty. But being in this time, seeing a strong person like Ino cry hit him hard.
"No, it was because of you." Broody Sasuke corrected softly. Deadly. The air around him seemed to freeze with Dark Sasuke's intent. "You are making her doubt us. Making her think unnecessarily on our relationship. On our future."
Sasuke bristled. "Am not."
"Not only that, you are making her doubt her worth." Broody Sasuke paused, red eyes narrowing. "I know what you want from her. That whole scene you made back in the tavern didn't work the way you thought it did."
Sasuke dared a smirk. "I don't know. She seemed like she was getting jealous. There's one thing that you can count on when trying to provoke emotions in a woman. Throw another woman in the mix and things work to your advantage."
Broody Sasuke smirked as well, though it was much more sinister than his own. "And that's all she is to you? Another woman?" Soon Sasuke was slammed to the floor with a hand to his throat. Sasuke's breath was knocked out of him and blood filled his mouth where he had bit his tongue. His head felt like a ton of bricks fell on to it. "She's not another woman. She's mine!" Dark Sasuke was quivering with unchecked fury, his three tomoe spinning widely. His hand tightened around his vulnerable neck and Sasuke choked for a breath.
"She's not the only one who's jealous!" Sasuke managed to scream, though it was wheezy and tight. "You are too! Jealous of me because I have everything you don't!" He didn't care if he was getting the life choked out of him by his mentally unstable doppelganger. He would not let Dark Sasuke intimidate him. "I have my family! I have my brother! I have the life you wished you had! You never liked me from the beginning because you knew all of this! You have nothing!" The last part was squeezed off and black dots swam in his vision and he closed his eyes. He needed air! He clawed weakly at Broody Sasuke's hand.
"That's right. I have nothing. Nothing but her." He felt Broody Sasuke's take pressure from his throat and immediately took in ragged breaths of air. But when he opened his eyes he felt his world shift into another reality. A world where there was black clouds and a red moon.
Sasuke knew he was in a genjutsu. A Sharingan genjutsu but he didn't have enough strength to break himself from it. So he helplessly looked around to see what Dark Sasuke wanted to show him. He recognized the Uchiha compound in the inky night sky. He took a few steps forward and saw that there were small footsteps in blood. So he followed them, jogging until he saw the familiar cut stones of his home walkway. The door was already open and he stepped in, hearing someone sobbing.
"Why? Why did you do this brother?" Sasuke stiffened when he saw a version of his younger self, kneeling and holding his stomach as if he was having a hard time keeping in his meal. "Father! Mother! Don't Brother!"
What he saw next made his heart seize in horror. Itachi…his beloved older brother was behind their tied parents with a sword dripping with blood. But his eyes…gone was any kind of warmth or compassion. He was looking at a stranger with the mask of his brother. Little Sasuke was trembling but then a mournful scream erupted from his mouth when Itachi slid his sword into their parent's bodies.
Stop Sasuke! I don't want to see this! He begged mentally, unable to tear his eyes from the wide, dead eyes of his mother. His beautiful mother who looked so much like him. Whose smile would make him feel better no matter how bad of a day he was having. She doted on him, loved and sheltered him to the point of overprotectiveness. And then his father…his silent but strong father who would spend all the free time he had with him. Talking and training. Joking. They were laying there in a pool of their own blood with a psychotic Itachi standing over them staring intently at little Sasuke.
Little Sasuke bolted from the room, stumbling outside but picking himself up and running. "Don't kill me!"
He felt the ghostly touch of Itachi's specter brush past him to chase his little brother. It didn't take him long to get in front of little Sasuke. He saw and felt the immense fear in this younger version of himself. "Don't kill me!" He pleaded, on his knees in front of Itachi. He was shaking his head. "This is a lie. My brother would never do such a thing."
"I played the role of the older brother you wanted to test your capacity. The one who can test my capacity…you have that potential. You thought of me as unpleasant and hated me. You've always wanted to surpass me. That's why I'm going to let you live. For my sake." Itachi explained with a scary void emotionless tone. "At the moment you're not even worth killing. Foolish little brother. If you want to kill me, hate me, detest me and survive in an unsightly way. Run. Run and cling to life. And then someday, when you have the same eyes as I do, come before me…"
Then he was brutally yanked from the genjutsu, his mid reeling, his heart bleeding and his face damp with tears. He sucked in a breath and rolled over, gagging and coughing from the force of emotion he felt. His face was buried in the grass, his fingers clutched in the soil. He felt Broody Sasuke squat beside him.
"I showed you these things not for your pity or sympathy but for a purpose. You are half right. I am jealous that you have all the things that were taken away from me in your world. Seeing you makes me wonder what went wrong. You take so many things for granted. You want what other people have. You came to this time, to my time thinking you can breeze by like you do in your own time regardless of the consequences. Thinking that you can get your way like you do back in your world. Thinking that what little I have, you are entitled to."
Sasuke remained quiet, not wanting anything more to happen to him as he recovered from the genjutsu.
"This might not be your reality, but it is mine. A place I have to live in, where people here matter to me. My woman is not a mere toy you can play with. She's not a conquest to be added to your pathetic escapades. Remember this night well Sasuke. Remember your place. If I have to remind you again, you will die."
AN: Greeting beloved readers! Sorry this update took so long, but I started a new job and have to get into the groove of it. Scheduling is hard, plus I have a three month old and babies demand so much of your time! LOL. Anyways, one more chapter after this! Hope you guys R&R! Reviews are sunshine! Kisses! :MUH: