I trembled. I could feel the sweat escaping from my pores and the hot tears leaking out of my eyes. I could feel my muscles constrict and my knees growing weak. I tried to tighten my grip on my weapon but my body no longer belonged to me. The clang the kunai made when it struck the ground sounded like thunder in my ears and I blinked my tear-filled eyes from the jolt; it was the only movement I could manage. He controlled me now, the dark shadow that stood in front of me with eyes of crimson. With eyes of cruel, bright crimson.
He stood before me, unblinking, unmoving. His staring gaze was intense and relentless causing the tension to thin to a razor-wire in the air. His hate-filled eyes locked onto my own sad green and I could not look away. Those cold, cruel eyes had complete control over every muscle and every cell in my body. He forced me to look at him, to finally realize he wasn’t the boy I remember.
“I made things very clear. To the both of you.”
I could hear his voice, the voice I used to cherish, loud and calmly harsh in my ears but I couldn’t see his lips move. He was only a shadow and if it weren’t for his anger locking me in my own body, I would have thought him unreal. I would have thought him another coping mechanism, a figment of my slow reforming mind from those first few months after his defection. This was no figment, he was no mirage and he spoke again when I didn’t answer.
“I wanted nothing more to do with Leaf. That should’ve been made very evident when I left from the beginning. But you two were never very good at realizing even the simplest messages.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block his shadow out and trying to block his voice out. This wasn’t supposed to go this way. This isn’t how he was supposed to be! What went wrong? Who was he? Who was this stranger in front of me? The realization that this Sasuke was not my Sasuke hurt more then any physical injury ever could.
“What happened to you?” I coughed out weakly. His staring grip felt like it was pressing my ribs against my lungs, pressing the air out of my chest. I could still breath, but only barely. A bead of sweat rolled slowly down the side of my face and I could taste sweat’s salt in my mouth, drawing up all the moisture…I could feel the energy slowly draining out of my body and my vision swayed and blurred. If it weren’t for his steel-like eyes on me I knew would have collapsed.
He was killing me. In a way I didn’t even think possible.
“Was it always like this and Itachi just made it worse?” I asked him, opening my eyes finally, to see his and the coldness of his gaze, the freezing wave of intensity that met me put raw fear in my stomach and ice in my veins, but for the life of me, I couldn’t look away. Partly because his grip made it impossible and partly because I simply didn’t want to . If he was going to kill me, I might as well try and understand him as much as I could. All my training, all my hard work…was for him, was for this moment. I wanted to find him, I wanted to bring him home, to show him everything he was missing and everything that was missing him. I wanted to show him that happiness could exist for him. Only I didn’t know that he had given up on happiness completely.
“You have no right to ask that. This was never any of your concern. You, who had everything you wanted, how can you even dare to ask me a question like that?”
He started toward me slowly, but the shadow still encased his body as if his soul were so dark, not even the sun’s light could reach it.
The second he was two feet in front of me, a sharp pain exploded in my stomach as if he had just thrust his katana deep into my abdomen and wrenched it around. I doubled over, falling to my hands and knees, heaving, but coughing up nothing but disgusting air.
“Sasuke, please..” I rasped out, looking up at him with anguish in my expression, finally having control over my drained body, but his eyes and expression only hardened and the shadows cleared his face, making his glare even more menacing then I could have imagined. Never before had I seen such an expression on his face.
“I don’t pity you and I don’t have sympathy for people who choose to hang onto something so useless. Who choose to have doomed hope.” He told me, his voice pure malice. Sasuke had descended into the farthest reaches of darkness, far past the point of return and I didn’t think he would ever come out. The evil and darkness of the world had consumed him body and mind. The look of malevolence in his eyes was so strong, I could feel it radiating off of him and the words that fell from his mouth dripped like noxious venom.
Who the Uchiha Sasuke that stood over me was, I no longer knew. But I did know that the Uchiha Sasuke that existed in my memories and in my dreams: He was the one that I would love forever. I had tried, I really had and I may not have been successful, but this was not my fault. If there was anyone to blame, it was Konoha itself. Sasuke himself hadn’t done this, Orochimaru hadn’t done this, not even Itachi was at fault. The monster that would be my end had been at the mercy of the village Elders. It was they who planted Evil’s seed and began Sasuke’s destructive path and I wished Hell upon them. How anyone could place this kind of doom on somebody else was completely beyond my comprehensive thinking. They had said it had been for the good of the village, and the Uchiha’s assassination order may have been the biggest mistake of their lives because from the look on this boy’s face, the day that the Elders and the Sandaime gave the order, not only Konoha, but the World had signed its death warrant.
I lowered my eyes and took a deep breath. It was over. I couldn’t save him and I desperately hoped that someday, someone might and so I readied myself for the last words I would ever say.
“I had hoped it would’ve ended at Itachi, but now I know that your hatred and revenge isn’t over yet. I failed at saving you and I hope, that for you and your sanity’s sake that you can find the strength to let go of the darkness and save yourself.” I told him, pouring my heart and life into every word I uttered, and locked my eyes with his to show that I wasn’t afraid of death and even though I had finally realized what he was, I wasn’t afraid of him either.
His jaw relaxed and his eyes narrowed as he looked down upon me. He reached behind him and pulled the shining blade out of its sheath and flicked his wrist so that it spun in his hand, directing the point inches from my neck. “I lost my sanity long ago.”
I took one last look at him, taking in every feature. His fire-filled eyes, his slender nose, his strong jaw line, his perfectly shaped lips spread into a hard line. The only thing that marred his extraordinary beauty, was the dark, evil expression that shadowed it and I grew sad for him, knowing that his face would never again smile, would never know the throes of happiness.
After I had drank every contour, and every line of his perfectly sculpted features, and every high and lowlight that caressed his gleaming blue-black hair, I closed my eyes, waiting for his blow, hoping he had enough humanity left in him to make it painless.
I waited, and when I felt nothing, I began to wonder if I had even felt his death-blow at all, however I was certain that I should’ve felt something strike me, or felt something leave me but alas, there was nothing. I didn’t want to open my eyes, because I was afraid of what I would see, but I had to, I had to know if I was really dead.
I slowly lifted my eyelids to see the same scene before me. I hadn’t moved and neither had Sasuke. He still stood before me, with that perfect posture and steel-like grip on the hilt of his katana, but his eyes had lost their fire, and his expression had softened slightly. It was only when I looked up at him with confusion crossing my face, did his arm begin to tremble.
“Why can’t I…” He began and I knew he wasn’t talking to me. Immediately I turned my gaze to his shadow but Shikamaru’s jutsu was nowhere to be seen.
“You can’t find it in you to kill me.” I whispered, mostly to myself.
“I don’t care about you, I never have.” He retaliated, but I could hear the very subtle waver in his voice. Why this waver existed where only darkness had before, I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out. There had been no sign of hesitation before.
“That’s a lie…you’re lying to yourself Sasuke and I think…”
“Shut up.” He told me in a loud, angry, harsh voice, eyes ablaze and teeth clenched and bared. If he didn’t like what I had just said, then he wouldn’t like what I was about to say.
“..and I think, you have been your entire life. Everything you’ve been telling yourself about your brother, about your need for revenge…it’s all a lie. You’re using an ultimatum, not to quench a thirst for vengeance, but for pain. You used the assumption that your family would have wanted this for you to justify the things that you did to get here. I may not understand what it’s like to bear the kind of pain and enmity that you do, but I can accept it and I can try and heal a wound that’s been bleeding for years. You only need to let me. To let someone. If you don’t let it go Sasuke, it’s going to kill you. The other villages, they see you as major threat and they’ll eliminate you. You don’t deserve a death like that, you deserve to know what it feels like to be happy, and to have a normal life. So please, come back to the village.”
He was silent as he surveyed me with that same dark expression and smoldering eyes. His chest heaved from agitation and pure anger because he knew I was right but he didn’t want to accept it.
“Why?! So they can lock me in a cell for the rest of my life?! You call that happy?!” He shouted. He was starting to finally break that cool, composed fašade of his and the mask was crumbling, falling away from his face to reveal the true boy within.
“They won’t do that to you. You can prove to them that you’ve changed.” I told him in a soft, level voice. I wasn’t afraid for him anymore, in those seconds before I opened my eyes to see that he hadn’t killed me, I knew something had changed in him, something had clicked.
“I haven’t changed. I can never change.” He said, dropping his katana putting his hands on the sides of his head, clutching handfuls of hair and balling his hands into fists. He shook his head and then collapsed to his knees, doubling over until his nose nearly touched the dirt.
Immediately I rushed over to him and put my arms around him just as I had after Orochimaru had bitten him back in the forest of death, except things were so much different now. We were so much different.
“You have changed and you can change some more. You know how I know?” I asked, and when I got no response from him, I went on: “Because you didn’t kill me. If you had truly meant it when you said you never cared, you would have struck me, you would’ve ended me there on the spot.”
“I didn’t.” He said in a shaky voice, hands still in fists and I nodded. “No, you didn’t.”
“But I should have. I don’t care about you. I don’t, I don’t. I don’t I don’t….”
He continued to mutter ‘I don’t’ until his voice cracked with tears.
“I don’t, I don’t care. I don’t care. I never cared. I can’t care. You don’t mean anything. I should have killed you. Why didn’t I?” He rambled to himself, his tears falling to stain the dirt a darker brown.
As I stared at him and his shaking body, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. I knew he would never be the Sasuke I remember, he would never completely heal, but I knew he was changing into something for the better but the road head would be a long one. The psychological damage he had sustained and repressed would take years to unravel and unknot, and it would probably take years for him to accept the village and the village to accept him. He would never be the same, he would probably never be truly carefree or happy but I knew he could change enough to let some of that in and I was going to do everything in my power to help him and I knew Naruto would too.
The blonde idiot hadn't known of my solo expidition and niether had the rest of the village...but they soon would.
I may not have had my Sasuke back but I had a Sasuke back and that was good enough for me.
Story notes: I'm not quite sure where this story will go...it might be just a one-chapter thing or it might turn into a multi chapter saga, I really don't know, but I guess we'll see how things turn out.