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The Jikan Phenomenon

Chapter Text

One moment Sasuke is sitting around his campfire, the slightly chilly night quiet around him, his sharingan activated as he stared into the flames, memories flashing before his eyes, and then the next thing he knows he's standing in his childhood home, four sets of startled eyes staring at him.

He doesn't move, even when his mother's tanto is suddenly pressed against his neck. Fugaku is staring at him, his eyes hard and unforgiving and Sasuke can see Itachi in the corner of his eye, kunai poised and ready to strike him if he so much as moved in a way Itachi didn't like.

It's seeing a younger version of himself, wide-eyed and staring at Sasuke from behind his father, that keeps Sasuke from lashing out.

"State your name and your purpose, intruder," Fugaku demands, his hand reaching down to push the younger Sasuke farther behind him, trying to keep the young boy from gaining his attention.

Sasuke takes his family in, calmly, and silently curses his family's legacy.

The Jikan Phenomenon is something that the Uchiha rarely talk about. The sharingan and it's capabilities when it comes to space and time are largely unexplored. The sharingan has many techniques that, with enough training, the wielder can control. The Jikan Phenomenon is not one of them.

The entire basis of the phenomenon happened so long ago that the Uchiha Clan no longer remembers the first incident, only that it started a domino effect. Once it happened, it would continue to happen for decades to follow. The premise is simple: the sharingan takes its wielder back in time with not forewarning whatsoever. Sasuke doesn't remember it happening a lot when he was younger, maybe once or twice, but with the clan massacred as they were, there was never an opportunity for anyone to just come back by chance. Now that Sasuke thinks about it, it was a rather foreboding sign that something was going wrong towards the end of the Uchiha Clan's existence.

"Speak, intruder," Mikoto's voice breaks his train of thought, her tanto pressing tighter against his throat, the overt threat hard against his skin.

"Jikan," Sasuke replies eventually, eyeing his family.

There's a pause from everyone around him, gazes met and exchanged, before the tanto leaves his throat and Fugaku is motioning towards the doorway that would lead to the hall outside of the kitchen. "Follow me."


Sasuke stays silent as the two adults eye him warily. Sasuke isn't quite sure how to handle seeing his family again. There's so much pain surrounding his past, surrounding the images of his mother and father, that Sasuke is doing his utmost to try and distance himself slightly from the two in front of him. If he thinks of them as his parents, he might break down. Sasuke has long gotten over his loss, but that doesn't mean the wounds still aren't there.

"How far into the future do you come from?" Fugaku asks, his expression blank except for the tiny hint of curiosity sparking in his eyes.

Sasuke tilts his head, quick calculations flying through his mind, as he tried to adjust his thinking. This is clearly before the massacre, before everything went wrong, and his younger self had looked so incredibly young when he'd gotten the brief glimpse of him before. He struggles with himself slightly before he quietly replies, "More than ten years."

Mikoto and Fugaku exchange another glance, communicating with each other without even saying a word, before they once more turn back to him, scrutinizing his appearance and demeanor. Mikoto is watching him incredibly closely, an odd expression on her face. Both of the shinobi in front of him have already clocked into the fact that he never said his name and it looks like Mikoto is slowly putting the pieces together. If anyone was going to realize who he was without him having to introduce himself, it would either be his mother or Itachi. Speaking of Itachi, Sasuke has to keep himself from smiling fondly at the silent presence at his back. The young Itachi is standing silently behind him, guarding the door from both his escape and from anyone trying to get in before it is deemed necessary.

"You never mentioned your name," Mikoto finally states, breaking the quiet that had descended upon them.

Sasuke can go in two different directions. He can lie, tell them he's some random Uchiha from the future, let them think that the clan is going strong. Let them make their own decisions and let the rightful history of his past take place. Let the massacre happen, let his younger self suffer for years before being beat into sanity by Naruto's fists and words. He can let Itachi make his mistakes and let him die, just as his future self had wanted.

Sasuke has the choice to stick to his past, his future, and to let things exist as they had.

Or, he could tear apart his future and make a better one.

The Jikan Phenomenon, after all, didn't only deal with time. It also dealt with reality. When an Uchiha went back in time and changed nothing, met no one, they would eventually be carried back to their future, everything the same just as they left it. When the wielder made the decision to change things, however, it became more complicated. Every decision everyone makes allows time to branch off and make a new reality. A new dimension. The Uchiha were the cause of several shifted and newly formed dimensions. If Sasuke spoke up, if he told them the truth of who he was and where he came from, his machinations would cause a shift. A new reality, a new dimension would be created alongside his own. A dimensions where things would be different.

The only downside being that if his past changed, his connection to his own reality would be severed. Sasuke's sharingan would not be able to connect to his future because his future would no longer exist in the reality he was a part of. He would be stuck in the past of a dimension that he had created.

"My name is Uchiha Sasuke."

He mourned all those he was leaving. He mourned Kakashi, his sensei who was so very tired. He mourned Sakura, the girl who he so hastily discarded as weak. He mourned Naruto, the boy who never gave up as he pursued Sasuke to hell and back. He would miss his team, his future family. But, Sasuke had many mistakes and held plenty of regrets, and if he didn't take this opportunity, he would never forgive himself. The Jikan Phenomenon only happened once to a select few and Sasuke needed to make sure that there was more Uchiha for the phenomenon to happen to.

He held the memory of his found family close as he wished them goodbye, finally meeting the shocked gazes of his past nightmares, and now possible redemption figures.

"There's some things you need to know."

Chapter Text

The first thing Sasuke needed to think about was who he could trust with the knowledge of his future. He needed to carefully consider what he was sharing with the people around him. Mikoto and Fugaku—they can’t be his parents any longer if he was going through with this—were staring at him in awe, taking in his appearance. They were good people, Sasuke knew, but they were currently in a precarious position. If Sasuke was going to stick around, they would be the ones covering for him. This would definitely throw even more suspicion on the Uchiha Clan’s activities. The Clan was already going to try and plan a coup in a couple of years; Sasuke wasn’t sure he wanted to contribute to the negative feelings the village held towards his Clan.

So, what to tell them?

“You’re so big,” Mikoto whispers, her eyes shining. “Just look at you!”

Sasuke let himself smile at the comment, a bubble of wistfulness growing in his chest. He never got the attention he had so craved from his parents as a kid, and to have their focus completely on him, for them to be staring at him with pride shining on their faces, was certainly a scene in which he never thought he would find himself in.

“What rank did you reach?” Fugaku asks, looking Sasuke up and down.

Sasuke shifts, his cloak lightly swishing back and forth. He wondered if it was suspicious that he wasn’t wearing any village identifying clothing. He didn’t have the uchiwa fan on him anywhere either. Oh well, he dismissed, things to worry about for another time.

“Genin,” he replied with some amusement. Once everything had started to calm down after the war, Sasuke hadn’t seen any point in taking any tests to raise his rank. He hadn’t stayed in the village anyway, so it wasn’t like he had much of a chance to take the chunin and then jonin exams. People were more than aware that he was no genin.

“That’s all?” Fugaku’s proud look has turned into a frown, his relaxed observation of Sasuke turning more sharp as he gazes at Sasuke’s form, still hidden behind his cloak.

“I took the chunin exams at one point, but wasn’t promoted. Never got around to taking it again,” Sasuke responds with a light shrug. They were his family, but until he had a more concrete plan, there was no reason for them to know what Sasuke could do; just how much he was capable of.

Fugaku is still frowning at him, a look of disapproval clear on his face, but Mikoto is still smiling gently at him, just happy to see him.

“We were just sitting down for breakfast! Why don’t we head back to the kitchen and talk while we eat? Itachi, go get your brother out of his room.”

Sasuke paused, his mind suddenly remembering that his older brother was stationed behind him. Sasuke turned and looked over his shoulder, making eye contact with the younger man.

He looked so young. Sasuke etched Itachi’s young, untroubled face into his mind, trying to take in details that he had long since forgotten. Itachi had made many mistakes, had put Sasuke through a type of hell that no one had ever deserved to go through, but he was still Sasuke’s older brother, the man who—while misguided—tried to do everything in his power to keep Sasuke alive. It was nice seeing the curious look on his face; it makes him look alive.

“Yes, kaa-san,” Itachi replied calmly, his voice never wavering as he made eye contact with Sasuke. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Itachi quietly slid open the door and headed out into the hall, turning off towards the direction of the bedrooms.

“Come,” Mikoto said cheerfully, walking to Sasuke and, while advertising her movements clearly, softly put her hand on Sasuke’s left shoulder. Sasuke allowed it, not letting his flinch show. He had gotten used to others avoiding touching him on his left side. With his arm quite clearly not there anymore, people had the tendency to avoid looking at it. The only time someone would go for it would be when they thought they saw a weakness he was carrying. Sasuke allows Mikoto to lead him out of the room and it’s when she moves her hand down slightly, her fingers grazing the empty area below his stub that he had a revelation. They couldn’t see his missing arm, he realized.

Mikoto paused for a second as they walked towards the kitchen, a flash of something going through her eyes, before she continues on her way, her hand once more upon his shoulder. He allows her to push him towards the table, taking a seat as she prepares a setting for him. Fugaku comes in next, his frown still ever-present on his face. From behind him, a small head pops out.

He had thought Itachi looked young. His own face stared back at him, oh so curious with just a tinge of uncertainty and fear. He was tiny at this age, his cheeks full and his face prone to blushes whenever he felt embarrassed. Sasuke hadn’t felt like that in so long that it was rather jarring to see himself flush when met with an unwavering gaze.

“Itachi says you came from the future,” young Sasuke whispers curiously, inching his way towards his older counterpart.

Sasuke makes sure his smile is tranquil, nothing but kind feelings on his face and that they are the only feeling radiating from him. There was no reason to spook his younger self. “He’s right.”

Younger Sasuke perks up, his eyes widening. “I travel through time?!”

Sasuke nods, not saying anything when Itachi appears, taking younger Sasuke’s hand and maneuvering him into sitting next to their mother instead of beside Sasuke. Itachi, with no indication of his tactical move, takes the empty spot next to him.

Itachi doesn’t trust him. That’s certainly new, Sasuke thinks with an internal chuckle. This entire experience is causing havoc with his emotions; especially if he’s started chuckling.

“I did, yes,” Sasuke finally tells his younger self. Sasuke has travelled through time. His younger self might not, not with the changes Sasuke has already made with his presence.

“That’s so cool!” younger Sasuke shouts, his round eyes shining with glee and amazement. His grin is wide and it makes Sasuke’s mouth hurt in sympathy at the stretch.

“Sasuke-bo, eat your natto,” Mikoto interrupts, gesturing towards the younger Sasuke’s untouched food.

“But kaa-chan,” younger Sasuke whines, his attention briefly taken off his time travelling counterpart, “I don’t like natto!”

“Sasuke,” Fugaku interjects gruffly, “Uchiha do not whine. They do as their parents tell them.”

His younger self continues to pout, though he does start taking small bites of the fermented soy beans.

“You too, Jikan-kun,” Mikoto encourages, turning to scold Sasuke. Sasuke blinks, jolted by the sudden address. He supposes it is quite confusing to address both of the Sasuke’s in the room by their shared names. He lets it go, but can’t help making a face at the natto in front of him. Mikoto lets out a breathy chuckle, smiling brightly at him as she says, “You still make the same faces!”

Sasuke glances at the younger Sasuke, sees the indignant look on the child’s face, and quickly clears his own face of emotion. “I haven’t eaten natto in almost ten years.”

Mikoto blinks at the comment, surprised. “Do I stop making it for some reason? It’s your tou-san’s favorite.”

Sasuke calmly replies, “Once I’m older I spend a lot more time eating at the training grounds.” Sasuke, after the massacre, had made his own food and packed it, that way he wouldn’t have to stop training, even when he became hungry.

“Oh, I hope you didn’t overwork yourself!” Mikoto fretted.

“You wouldn’t have let me,” Sasuke confesses. It’s true; if his mother had been alive she would’ve surely made him attend at least one meal with the entire family.

Mikoto’s returning grin is mischievous, a wink sent in his direction letting him know that she assumed she must have done something to get him back into the house and spending time with his family. It makes his chest ache. Seeing his mother, her smile so very beautiful, so concerned for his wellbeing is sending a pain throughout his chest.

The five of them settle down, eating in a relaxed quiet. Younger Sasuke is done first, the little boy waiting patiently at the table as the rest of his family eats. Itachi finishes next and, with a silent glance exchanged between father and son, bundles up his younger brother, announcing his intentions of giving his little brother a bath. Younger Sasuke whines, wanting to ask Sasuke more questions, but Itachi insists that Sasuke bathe before he can leave the house for the day. Both of them are gone the next second and Sasuke can feel the heavy stares of the other two set themselves on him.

“How long has it been gone?” is the first thing Mikoto asks, her voice sad as she looks at him. Fugaku raises his eyebrow slightly, obviously not in the known about what Mikoto is talking about, but curious for his answer nonetheless.

Sasuke debates with himself for a moment. He can’t hide it, Mikoto knows after all, but he’s hesitant to let them know about his disability. He was very much convinced that it let people underestimate him. People would take a look at him and assume that he was weak. H had used it to his advantage once or twice. This, however, was different. This was the family he had lost far too soon all those years ago. Would they take one look at his arm and recoil as the image of their still young son overlay his own? It was too late now to back out anyway.

Sasuke shrugs out of his cloak, allowing his empty left sleeve to be seen by the two diagonal from him. Mikoto lets out a faint gasp, her gaze locked onto the empty sleeve, while Fugaku’s eyes only widen to indicate his surprise.

“I lost it a few years ago,” Sasuke answers, taking his cloak into his hand and setting it down beside him.

“Does it hurt still?” Mikoto enquires softly, her gaze full of pity.

Sasuke doesn’t let the pity bother him. He made the decision himself to not get a replacement arm made out of Hashirama cells. His lack of arm is a reminder of who he is now.

“No. It hasn’t for a while.”

“Who did it?” Fugaku’s voice is hard. Sasuke fights the urge to straighten his back, not wanting to break his relaxed posture.

“Does it matter? They won’t do it again,” Sasuke tells Fugaku, his voice letting the older man know that he wouldn’t be getting a name from Sasuke. This world won’t be one where it would be necessary for Sasuke to fight Naruto. Sasuke won’t let his younger self abandon the village. He won’t allow for there to be a reason to abandon the village.

Fugaku scoffs slightly, his eyes narrowing, but he doesn’t pursue the subject. Instead, he turns to another difficult topic. “We must go to the hokage.”

Sasuke grimaces. He knows that he can’t stay a secret. The Jikan Phenomenon has always been kept from the general public, as well as the other clans, but it’s something that is far too important to be kept from the village’s hokage. Sasuke isn’t sure which hokages have known of the incidents through time, but he’s sure the Sandaime would be one of the village leaders to know about it. If nothing else, he would’ve been informed by either Itachi or Shisui in the event that it somehow effected the rising tensions in the village.

Shisui. Sasuke blinked, startled out of his thoughts. Uchiha Shisui, known as Shunshin no Shisui, played an important part in the upcoming events. Sasuke had learned about Shisui’s role in the attempt to stop the coup. Sasuke also knew about Shisui’s Mangekyo ability, Kotoamatsukami. The man had failed in Sasuke’s past at using said ability to stop the coup, but with Sasuke’s foreknowledge and his help, could Shisui be the answer to his first obstacle at fixing the past to better the future?

“Of course,” he replied eventually, his thoughts struggling to turn from the possibility of Shisui’s part in his future plan. “I’m ready when you are.”

Chapter Text

Sasuke kept his posture relaxed, but his back straight. Sarutobi Hiruzen sat in front him, his bottom half hidden behind his large desk. Both Mikoto and Fugaku had been permitted to stay for the meeting, but Sasuke had seen the Hokage’s small gesture, as well as the vanishing chakra signatures of the ANBU that had been stationed in the room.

This meeting, due to its topic, would remain secret in nature.

“I must ask you, Uchiha-san, what exactly is so top secret that even my ANBU could not be present for it?” The Sandaime’s voice is calm, weathered, with just a touch of tension around his jaw that someone who didn’t have as keen of an eye as Sasuke did would have missed.

Fugaku, unlike Sasuke, is rigid all over, his face just as severe. “I assume your predecessor left instructions on how to react when an Uchiha comes to you and claims time travel.”

The Sandaime is suddenly unnaturally still, his eyes boring into Fugaku. Sasuke takes this in, watching the two men interact. This does answer his question on if a previous hokage had known about the unspoken sharingan ability. He wondered if it fed into the Nindaime’s suspicions of the Uchiha Clan.

“I am aware of the Jikan protocol,” the Sandaime starts slowly, his eyes finally leaving Fugaku’s to meet Sasuke’s. “I assume that such circumstances are sitting in front of me at this very moment?”

Sasuke tilted his head, making sure to keep his chakra calm. The Sandaime looks old already. Not as old, or as tired, as he is when Sasuke is older, but you can see how tired the older shinobi already is. The Yondaime is dead already, killed the night of Naruto’s birth, and his students have abandoned him—

Sasuke pauses.

Tsunade has already left the village at this point, heartbroken over Dan. Jiraiya is off working on his ever-increasing spy network. Orochimaru—

Sasuke fights the frown threatening to cover his face. Where is Orochimaru?

“Yes,” Fugaku speaks stiltedly, answering the Hokage’s inquiry when Sasuke lets his thoughts get the best of him.

“And you are?” The Hokage addresses him once more, his curiosity bleeding into his voice.

“Uchiha Sasuke, Hokage-sama,” Sasuke replies smoothly, his mind spinning. “The son of Uchiha Fugaku and Uchiha Mikoto.”

Orochimaru was the last of the three Sannin to leave the village. The only one to turn missing-nin, true, but also the last one to leave for any length of time. He served under Danzo in ROOT for years before defecting from Konoha. Sasuke’s heart beat picked up. Could Orochimaru still be a Konoha shinobi at this point in time?

“Ah,” The Hokage replies after a moment of silence. He’s taking in Sasuke’s appearance, cataloging the similarities and differences between himself and his parents. His gaze is analytical and Sasuke desperately fights his current line of thought down viciously. He can contemplate the Orochimaru issue at a later date. “Well then, Sasuke-kun, what happens that’s so bad you felt the need to mess with the very fabric of space and time?”

Sasuke, well, Sasuke panics, and says, “Uchiha Madara.”

Mikoto and Fugaku stiffen as they stare at him in surprise. He hadn’t shared anything with them before they had gone to see the Hokage. He didn’t have to. They were both Uchiha and they both knew the price he was paying by telling them who he was. He wonders now if they wish they had asked him more questions.

The Sandaime’s brow is furrowed, his confusion obvious on his face. “Uchiha Madara? What does he have to do with the future?”

“Everything,” Sasuke can’t help but snort out, because it’s true. Sure, Kaguya was slinking around in the form of Zetsu, but as far as Madara knew, Zetsu was his Will. Madara imparted that knowledge onto Obito before he died and it would have been believed to be the truth until Kaguya appeared. Zetsu would be clinging to Obito who, at this point in time, was masquerading as Uchiha Madara while fucking around with the Akatsuki and village politics. If Sasuke wanted to avoid the whole Kaguya issue in its entirety, as well as the whole reincarnated business that came along with her and the Sage of Six Paths, he would be better off telling the others what Obito believed to be the truth.

Sasuke let out a breath, collected himself, and started with, “He didn’t die after fighting Hashirama. He faked his death and escaped.” Sasuke specifically doesn’t mention Izanagi, won’t, because it’s not important. Izanagi is a kinjutsu that is best left unmentioned in front of outsiders not familiar with the sharingan. “He still wants revenge against Konoha.”

Sasuke lets the three shinobi in front of him absorb what’s he’s saying. It was a shock to him and he had lived it. Had met Obito as Madara, and then actual Madara, and the amount of exasperation and spite he still feels towards the two will most likely never wain. He’s willing to try and get Obito out of his own fat head, has to try for his family, who would’ve wanted that, but it doesn’t mean that he’s going to make it easy for Obito. He did things, awful things, while working towards Madara’s false hope and Kaguya’s rebirth that make even Sasuke shutter. And Sasuke has done plenty of things he’s not proud of.

Letting everyone assume that Obito is Madara will be the quickest way to get to him. Besides, it leaves Sasuke with a very heavy trump card he can whip our when absolutely necessary.

“That’s…not what I would’ve expected,” The Sandaime starts off slowly, enunciating his words, a clear show of how hard he’s thinking over Sasuke’s words. “That seems dangerous, yes, but is that all?”

Sasuke wants to snarl that there was nothing ‘is that all’ about the situation, but Sasuke knows he doesn’t understand the stain that Uchiha Madara has left on the world. The stain that his actions, molded by Zetsu, would leave on the shinobi world as a whole. So instead of snapping at the Hokage, Sasuke looks him in the eye and, with a dead, monotone voice, tells him, “Danzou helps him,” because Sasuke is petty as fuck.

That certainly gets a reaction out of the Hokage because he is suddenly standing, chair shoved harshly back as he glares at Sasuke with fire in his eyes. His shoulders are raised and he’s so clearly angry at Sasuke’s insinuation that it takes Sasuke a minute to clock onto the fact that while the Hokage is angry, he’s not attacking Sasuke either.

“You’ve already seen it,” Sasuke guesses, ignoring the confused looks his parents are shooting at him. “You’ve seen what he’s doing. Making plots like he’s the leader of the village,” Sasuke pauses, quickly clinging onto the date and adding, “He’s already tried to have you assassinated, hasn’t he? He tried to use Hatake Kakashi, but it failed.”

The Hokage is like ice now, the fire in him burning cold. He is meeting Sasuke’s gaze once more, but it’s hard, chipped like ice. He still says nothing.

“He’s taking children,” Sasuke spits, finally letting some of his burning anger out. “He’s taking orphans and clan children and using them. Experimenting on them,” he has to pause here again, because what he says, or rather implies next, will be important. He doesn’t know the exact date that Orochimaru left the village, but Sasuke knows his experiments started long before then. So, either Sasuke will be revealing Danzo’s hand in them or he will be outing both the Hokage’s ex-teammate and his trusted student. “And ordering others to do the same.”

Sarutobi’s expression shutters and he let’s out the most tired sigh Sasuke has ever heard. He slumps forward, sitting back into his chair with a heavy air around him. The man looks a lot more like the one that died by Orochimaru’s hand in the future.

“Orochimaru?” Sarutobi asks, his voice drenched in a hopeless undertone.

Sasuke examines the Hokage and considers his options. The Hokage isn’t stating his students name as a fact, but rather as a question, which implies that Orochimaru’s experiments had yet to be unearthed. Sasuke can use this. “He followed Konoha’s procedures on experimenting on foreign enemies at first,” which, as far as Sasuke can guess, isn’t actually true. Orochimaru, while a genius, didn’t understand human feelings. Orochimaru and human anything didn’t mix on the best of days. He was born more or less that way and all of his body modifications didn’t help him any.

He involuntarily narrows his eyes and purses his lips. Just how modified was the snake Sannin at this point?

“What changed?”

Sasuke cuts his thoughts off, tuning back into the conversation with the Hokage. He needs to stop getting lost in thought and start paying attention to those around him. He would have time later on to think about his strategy. Right now, he needed the Hokage on his side and away from Danzo’s grasping hands.

“ROOT,” Sasuke answers bluntly, not letting the Hokage’s flinch bother him. The man was currently an emotional wreck, so Sasuke wouldn’t hold it against him. “Once he joined, Danzo never tried to explain who or what he shouldn’t experiment on. Danzo didn’t care. As long as it helped his idea of what Konoha should look like.”

Once more, Sasuke was probably stretching the truth. Danzo hadn’t cared, had authorized all of Orochimaru’s experiments without a second thought, but it wasn’t Danzo who started Orochimaru on his path of moral destruction. Orochimaru had been the one to mess with Hashirama’s cells long before Danzo had asked him to. Danzo got Yamato from Orochimaru, after all, not the other way around.

But, Orochimaru had proven himself useful at the end, while Danzo hadn’t. It wasn’t hard to pick which one to place a target on.

“He helped Konoha, in the end,” Sasuke uses a more mild tone this time, gentling his voice. “When Konoha faced a truly monstrous threat, Orochimaru didn’t turn his back in their time of need.”

Truth stretching would be Sasuke new pass time. He refused to call it lying. Orochimaru had helped him make the decision to fight with the Shinobi Allied Forces, so Sasuke supposed it counts. Orochimaru had fought with them, in the end, so what did it matter that the decision was based solely on Sasuke’s actions and not on Orochimaru’s desire to help Konoha and its allies?

The Hokage has already started to collect himself, his break in temperament quickly erasing itself from his face, as well as his posture. He’s watching Sasuke again, but his eyes hold regret and weariness.

“I take it that there is more?” His voice is drained as he asks Sasuke this.

Sasuke takes in his audience: the Hokage’s somber defeat and slumped shoulders, as well as his parents’ narrowed and assessing eyes.

Sasuke nods slightly to himself before answering, “Call back, Jiraiya. He can help with Orochimaru, as well as Danzo. Plus, he knows some people we need to get into contact with.”

Yahiko is already dead and the Akatsuki is already formed, but Obito and Pein haven’t had time to recruit all of the future members. Itachi is obviously still in Konoha and there are several members of the Akatsuki that hadn’t joined until after Itachi’s times; Deidara, Hidan, and Kisame are the three Sasuke knew for sure hadn’t been approached yet. All three could be reasoned with.

Sasuke wrinkles his nose. ‘Reasoned with’. Right.

Deidara had been forced to join by Itachi, so if Itachi never leaves to recruit him, it’s possible Deidara might not be forced to join. Hidan, that utter nutjob, had joined because his village had turned into a tourist trap. Sasuke briefly ponders the advantage of convincing the Hokage to ask him to join Konoha and had to stop himself from shuttering. Sasuke never met the man, but he’s heard more then enough stories. Something to think on later. Kisame, Sasuke knew, was the more reasonable out of them all. He had become disillusioned with his village thanks to Obito’s interference and genjutsu placed on the Mizukge, and it would be more than possible for Sasuke to remedy the situation. Probably.

So many possible avenues to investigate. So many shinobi who were once enemies that could now be turned to allies.

So much change that will alter his future into something unrecognizable.

Sasuke closes his eyes, breathes in deeply, and counts to ten.

He made his choice.


He knew once he said his name, there was no going back.


He would not get the chance to see his version of his teammates or his sensei ever again.


No longer would there be an Uzumaki Naruto who glared at him and called him a teme.


No longer would there be a Haruno Sakura who yelled at her teammates to ‘shut the hell up,’ at their loud fighting, but still heal any damage they did afterwards.


No longer would there be a sensei, so very sad in the past, but now content as he smiled at his students from below the Hokage’s hat.


No longer would Sasuke get letters from an irate Uzumaki Karin as she complained about Orochimaru and Suigetsu. Mostly Suigetsu.


No longer would Sasuke get another letter, only hours later, of a similar nature written by Hozuki Suigetsu.


No longer would a softly smiling Jugo be waiting to greet him when he inevitably gave into the demands of the other half of Team Taka and stopped by one of Orochimaru’s bases for a brief visit.


Long gone were peaceful nights on the road as he slowly, but surely, worked through his trauma.


Long gone was his future.

Sasuke let out his breath, his worries, his pain, and then breathed in again, letting new opportunities fill his lungs. He opened his eyes and let himself smile slightly at the three other people in the room.

Sasuke had a mission again and he didn’t plan on failing.

Chapter Text

Sasuke watches Itachi with interest. The younger teen had appeared in the guest room he had been given by Mikoto and Fugaku and then had proceeded to silently stare at him for what has been five minutes now. Sasuke doesn’t mind, per se, but he’s curious as to what Itachi is doing. Is he actually looking at Sasuke, trying to find similarities between him and his younger self? Or is this some type of weird intimidation tactic that the younger shinobi is trying to pull off?

It’s kind of cute either way.

Sasuke stares back because this is a unique opportunity to take in his older brother before everything. This Itachi isn’t wracked with illness, blindness, or guilt. This Itachi is in ANBU, strong and smart. This Itachi has only ever smiled at his younger brother.

“How could I let it happen?”

Sasuke blinks, startled slightly by Itachi’s monotone question. Sasuke is well aware that his brother isn’t as unfeeling as he sometimes appears, so while the voice may be monotone, Sasuke can see the confusion and guilt hiding in Itachi’s eyes as they stare at Sasuke’s bared arm.

Ah, Sasuke thinks, how to explain this delicately? Itachi feels responsible for Sasuke, even at this age, so any injury Sasuke has gained will be seen as a failure on Itachi’s part. It’s not true—Sasuke dug his own grave and then willingly laid in it—but this Itachi doesn’t know that. This Itachi sees an older version of his cute little brother missing an arm.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Sasuke finally replies, doing his best to keep his voice a soothing lilt. This type of comforting isn’t something he’s used to; Naruto comforts you by being loud and unmovable, Sakura by smiling and then possibly punching something, and Kakashi completely avoids all types of emotional interaction that he can. Sasuke has no basis for a calm, controlled way to sooth someone.

“I let it happen,” Itachi responds, his voice taking on a chilly quality. It’s amusing to see Itachi hate something so fiercely. Itachi is a pacifist at heart, so seeing that smoldering hate is something unique, but Sasuke feels his amusement dim when he remembers that it’s just Itachi hating himself.

“My brother loved me,” Sasuke says eventually. He recognizes the past tense, idly wondering if Itachi will catch it or if he’s too immersed in his feelings. Uchiha feel deeply and completely. As Sasuke can attest, it’s hard to drag yourself from the waves of your emotions. “He made mistakes, everyone does, but I can always be certain that everything he did was just him trying to do what he thought was best for me.”

Because Sasuke has been working through his brother complex for years and he can now acknowledge that he always loved Itachi. Even when he was drowning in his anger, he loved his brother. Once an Uchiha loves, they can’t stop. Other emotions can accompany that love, but it won’t go away. It’s that truth that made it so difficult to give up Naruto during the first fight at the Valley of the End. Sasuke had already grown attached at that point and he wasn’t able to cute those last ties. He hadn’t felt the same way about his other two teammates until he was older. Sasuke fights down a pang in his chest, not willing to dig into his loss while he’s talking with someone else. His emotions ran deeper that he showed, and his feelings of loss were no different.

“My brother hurt me,” Sasuke continues slowly, picking his words carefully. “He hurt me to help me, and while I don’t think I will ever agree with the way he went about it, I’ve long since understood that he thought he had no other choices.”

Itachi is flawed, he’s human after all, but he’s still Sasuke’s brother. He cares for Sasuke just as deeply as Sasuke cares for him. He won’t allow Itachi to continue thinking it was his fault that Sasuke made stupid decisions. They were all pawns in an overarching game that none of them knew about until the end. Itachi’s decisions might’ve hurt Sasuke, hurt the Uchiha clan, but they weren’t made only by him. Sasuke chose the route of vengeance. He chose not to look too deeply into what had happened that night. Sasuke chose to run instead of sticking around. They all made their mistakes; but, those mistakes no longer existed.

“Don’t blame yourself, Itachi-kun,” Sasuke assures him, smiling just enough to curve the corners of his mouth. “He hurt me, but you haven’t hurt your Sasuke.”

Itachi looks shaken at his announcement, at Sasuke’s blatant placating. It was true though. Itachi never knew he could hurt Sasuke until he did. This Itachi, now that he knows that it has happened, that he did hurt Sasuke, will fight tooth and nail to never do so again.

“How did it start?” Itachi asks, his voice a whisper. He’s curled slightly into himself, his emotions making his age abruptly clear to Sasuke. He’s a talented shinobi, one of the strongest people Sasuke has ever met, but he’s still just a kid.

“You left me,” Sasuke confesses, feeling a burden lift from his shoulders. Because it’s a large pin in the fabric of their relationship. Itachi hurt him in multiple ways, most of them obvious to the outside observer. What Sasuke has kept to himself for years is that being left behind hurt just as much.

“I left you?” Itachi asks in confusion, obviously not being able to picture him ever abandoning his younger brother.

It brings another smile to Sasuke’s face.

“Yeah, you did,” Sasuke tells him, his eyes suddenly going sharp as he stares at Itachi. His brother stiffens at the shift in tone and expression, meeting his gaze hesitantly. “Don’t do it again, okay?”

Itachi nods immediately, a short jerk of his head. His expression is just as serious as the one Sasuke is wearing and it sparks an idea in his mind. He stands gracefully from his sitting position and saunters over to Itachi. His brother is stiff, but he makes no gesture to pull away or retreat. Their talk obviously relieved some of the tension from earlier. Sasuke stops in front of him, staring down at his brother. Itachi lifts his head to meet his gaze and it’s at the point that Sasuke reaches forward and pokes him on the forehead.

“Keep your promise,” Sasuke demands lightly, chuckling softly at Itachi’s wide-eyed surprise.

“Aniki!” Younger Sasuke shouts as he bursts through the door, smiling ear from ear.

Sasuke watches in amusement as Itachi startles badly, almost jumping in surprise. The younger teen shakes it off quickly before turning to the younger Sasuke and smiling, “What is it, Otouto?”

“Shisui is back!” This causes a reaction as both Uchiha siblings quickly leave the room, heading down the hall towards the front of the house.

Sasuke follows after them, his mind whirling. He doesn’t bother to grab his discarded cloak as no one but the Uchiha were ever in the compound at this point in time. There was no point in hiding. Shisui had been on a mission when he had first been deposited into the past. The teenager had long ago managed to make a reputation for himself. He was strong, Sasuke knew, and old enough to take care of himself. Itachi, while talented, was barely even a teenager at this point. Shisui, however, was established and confident in his abilities. He had been the one to inform the Sandaime about the growing discontent in the Uchiha clan. If anyone would be able to help Sasuke stop the massacre from happening, it would be Shisui.

“Shisui-niisan!” younger Sasuke shouted in delight, throwing himself at the teen.

Shisui laughed in delight, obviously glad to see the little boy. “Sasuke-bo!”

“Shisui,” younger Sasuke whined at the cutesy address only his mother could get away with, but nonetheless continued to climb up Shisui’s body like he was a tree. The teen didn’t seem to mind as he finally held the younger Sasuke in his arms.

Sasuke watched the reunion and struggled to see himself in the younger Sasuke’s shoes. He knows he was close with Shisui, saw him like another brother even, but Sasuke can’t remember ever being as delighted as his younger self is at seeing Shisui. Sasuke can’t remember ever being as smiley as his younger self is.

“Shisui-kun,” Itachi greeted with a small smile, his own delight evident. Shisui was like an older brother to the young teen, so it didn’t surprise Sasuke that Itachi was showing the most emotion he had ever seen when he wasn’t talking to his younger brother.

“Did you miss me, Itachi-chan,” Shisui said teasingly, grinning down at him, “Why didn’t you greet me with as much enthusiasm as Sasuke did?”

Itachi actually rolls his eyes at the address, something that causes Sasuke to chuckle. This immediately gains the attention of Shisui.

“And who is this?” he asks curiously. There’s no suspicion in his voice, just bald curiosity. Sasuke is obviously an Uchiha and he had been in the clan head’s home with his heirs, so he wouldn’t be seen as any type of threat.

“That’s Jikan-san!” younger Sasuke answers, grinning back at his older counterpart.

Shisui’s eyes widened, immediately catching onto the name. Any Uchiha who experienced the phenomenon was addressed by the title, and until Sasuke interacted with someone who wasn’t aware of the phenomenon, he would continue to be addressed as such by the people around him. Since he was staying, he might have to think of a different name to go by.

“Jikan? Really?” Shisui asks, looking Sasuke up and down. He doesn’t pause on Sasuke’s missing arm, his eyes sweeping over it, and it raises Shisui in Sasuke’s opinion. So many people get stuck on his disability, as Itachi demonstrated earlier. Granted, Itachi had been there when Sasuke had told his parents that he was still a genin, so to Itachi, Sasuke didn’t have the means to defend himself. Shisui, who had no such encounter, could simply see an unknown Uchiha who happened to only have one arm.

“He’s me,” younger Sasuke attempted to whisper, though his voice was loud enough that Sasuke still heard him from the porch. Mikoto and Fugaku had been clear on their insistence that while those outside of the clan shouldn’t know who Sasuke was, those inside were a different story. He wasn’t going around telling everyone who he was, but should they ask, Sasuke had been told to let them know. Sasuke wasn’t sure he agreed with this method, as the elders would eventually find out and start pestering him with questions he refused to answer, but Sasuke wasn’t the only Uchiha around anymore. He had close and extended family that he was suddenly forced to keep in mind.

Shisui strolls closer to the porch, depositing the younger Sasuke next to him. He takes a step back and examines them next to each other. The younger Sasuke is practically bouncing in his spot, excited beyond belief. It reminds Sasuke of Naruto.

“Wow,” Shisui says, his voice drawled out. “You stay short for the rest of your life, huh?”

Sasuke twitches, violently. Sasuke was never short. In fact, Sasuke is almost positive that he’s almost the same height as Shisui. Sasuke glares at the grinning teen, his face pinched. Shisui knows this, he’s not unobservant, so the only thing he can be doing is simultaneously breaking the ice and trying to get the younger Sasuke worked up by implying he’s little.

It works.

“Shisui!” the younger Sasuke whines loudly, his voice gaining in pitch.

Itachi laughs at his younger brother’s annoyance, his smile lighting up his entire face. “Let’s head inside. Kaa-san will be glad to see you.”

They all head in, their little family reunion continuing on with a shared hug between Mikoto and Shisui, and it’s a scene that jolts Sasuke into an abrupt awareness.

He had been bouncing his awareness between his future family that he had left behind and then past family that he is suddenly standing with. It had completely escaped his attention that his future family still existed. Naruto and Sakura were kids and Kakashi was suffering in ANBU, but they were still very much present during this time. Sasuke could still have his family. They wouldn’t be the same people he had known, the same family that had formed, but that just meant that there would be no sealed cracks. His family could form whole instead of broken.

Sasuke can help Sakura with her crumbling self-image. He can help Kakashi with his strangling guilt. Sasuke can help Naruto know what family is far earlier than the first time.

Sasuke watches the family in front of him, staying on the outskirts, but not feeling left out, and he plans.

Chapter Text

Sasuke rests his back against the tree trunk and stares down at the despondent sight in front of him. Naruto, so small to how big he grows, is watching the kids playing around him. He doesn't attempt to join in, so young yet already knowing well enough that him attempting to make any friends will end in disaster and pain.

It breaks Sasuke's heart.

Naruto doesn't deserve even a quarter of what he dealt with as a child. Alone. Discarded. It truly hurts to see the happy blonde face off against an opponent he can't win against; prejudice. Naruto will win the fight eventually, but it will be a decade of fighting that he suffers through before he gets a foothold of respect amongst the civilians and more antagonistic shinobi.

"You look lonely," Sasuke states, watching Naruto jump up from his swing, the blonde's head whipping up to catch Sasuke's gaze.

"Who are you, dattebayo!?" Naruto shrieks, pointing at Sasuke.

Sasuke can see several civilians look up at the shout before glaring and turning away, ignoring the outburst. The park is one of the smaller ones in the village and that means that there aren't as many people around to harass Naruto when he sticks around. Sasuke's angry that no one is paying attention right now, that if a foreign shinobi made it this far into the village, they could easily grab Naruto because no one cared.

Sasuke jumps down, landing lightly in front of Naruto. The blonde is watching him suspiciously, wary. Sasuke smiles softly at him because after being beat by Naruto, the only things Sasuke ever feels towards Naruto is affection and fond exasperation.

"I'm Uchiha Jikan," Sasuke replies smoothly. "What's your name?"

Naruto is startled, his arm slacking from his rigid point. Sasuke's friendly manor has obviously thrown him off. Sasuke knows that Naruto has dealt with people who were nice to him just to get him close before hurting him, but from Naruto's confusion, those encounters haven't yet occurred. Naruto is still willing to trust kindness.


"Uzumaki Naruto," Naruto replies grudgingly, watching Sasuke closely. Naruto's existence, and thus his name, is spit on often enough that he's probably looking for Sasuke's disgust at the revelation.

He won't find any.

"It's nice to meet you, Uzumaki-kun," Sasuke tells him truthfully. "I noticed that you looked lonely."

Naruto is obviously confused, too young to even try to hide his emotions. Not that he ever would, Sasuke admits in amusement. Naruto, while an incredible shinobi, didn't believe it necessary to falsify emotions.

"What of it?" Naruto asks aggressively, a pout forming on his lips. He's glaring at Sasuke again, affronted by Sasuke's observation. He looks sad.

"I'm lonely too," Sasuke admits, toning his voice down into a whisper, like he's sharing a secret with Naruto.

Naruto's eyes lose all hatred at once, looking at Sasuke in surprise and a hope. The hope is so desperate in his posture that it makes Sasuke want to lash out at everyone who put it there. He doesn't let that emotion affect his posture or chakra though, so close to giving Naruto so semblance of normality that he cant risk it.

"Really?" Naruto finally asks, his voice equally as quiet. His lips trembles slightly as he speaks and Sasuke knows that the boy is trying so hard not to cry.

"Really," Sasuke nods, his gaze and appearance now solemn. "I can't find anybody to go to Ichiraku with."

Naruto's eyes bug out of his head, his entire body spasming in a violent wave of excitement. He doesn't ever change, not when ramen is involved.

"I'll go with you, Jikan-san!" Naruto shouts, whipping his arms up in excitement.

Sasuke laughs with delight, can't help himself. Naruto is so eager and it brings back happy memories, ones that remain untainted by his own decisions. Sasuke knows Naruto is eager because he's hungry, recently kicked out of the orphanage and still trying to figure out how to live on his own. That Ichiraku is the only restaurant that will serve him happily. Both of these things are depressing on several levels, but Sasuke chooses not to dwell on them. Now that he's here to help, those things aren't important anymore. Sasuke won't let Naruto continue to suffer.

"Thank you!" Sasuke replies in turn, letting his voice fall into gratitude. "I thought I'd have to go all alone! Why don't you lead the way, Uzumaki-kun?"

"Okay!" Naruto is practically vibrating now, excitement taking control as he hops his way out of the park. He pauses at the entrance though, looking up at Sasuke with hopeful blue eyes. "You can call me Naruto, Jikan-san!"

Sasuke isn't used to smiling this much, but he still does it. "Thank you, Naruto-kun."

Naruto throws a giant grin his way, pleased, before continuing his previous bounce down the road as they head towards the ramen stand.

They get looks from the people around them, but Naruto pays little attention to it, so Sasuke doesn't interfere. Naruto has already grown accustom to ignoring the hateful looks while walking places and Sasuke can't change them on his own. Naruto will be able to change their minds once they see he's not the Kyuubi incarnate.

Naruto bursts into Ichiraku with delight, greeting Teuchi with a loud hello and a demand for ramen. The older man is already smiling fondly at Naruto as he takes a seat. Naruto couldn't have been coming to Ichiraku for long, and yet the owner was already clearly fond of the jinchuriki. Sasuke wishes it was that way with everyone Naruto interacted with.

"Hello, Naruto," Teuchi greets in return. "What are you craving today?"

"Miso pork!" Naruto cries out, looking back at Sasuke with delight. "They make the best Miso pork!"

Sasuke takes a seat next to Naruto, nodding his head in agreement. Sasuke's never been as fond of ramen as Naruto is (he sincerely doubts that anyone could be; though from what he knows of Kushina through Naruto, he could be wrong), but he's more than willing to indulge in some to keep Naruto happy. Plus, it adds the benefit of letting Sasuke do something to remind him of the past. Team 7, when they were actually getting along for brief moments, would occasionally go out to eat together after training. Naruto was always the loudest, and Sakura was always too busy with Sasuke's forced indifference, that they usually ended up at Ichiraku. Being at the ramen stand again, sitting next to Naruto, gives Sasuke a wave of nostalgia.

"I'll take the same," Sasuke adds with a nod towards the ramen chef. Teuchi is looking at him curiously, but takes his order with a smile anyway.

"I've never seen you at the park before, dattebayo," Naruto breaks in, his voice loud.

"I just got back to the village," Sasuke replies. The cover for any questions asked was to say he had been out on a long-term mission for years. Most would take it at face value; if they didn't, the hokage would confirm. Documents would be forged by the time anyone because curious enough to look.

"Are you a shinobi?" Naruto asks, his voice demanding an answer.

Sasuke looks down at the blonde interrogating him and nods his head.

"Where's you hiti-ate?" Naruto asks, looking Sasuke up and down, trying to find it.

"I couldn't wear it while I was away," Sasuke explains. "I have to get a new one now that I'm back."

"Oh," Naruto replies thoughtfully. He pauses for a second, side-eyeing Sasuke, before he continues, "When you get it, could I try it on?"

Sasuke blinks at the question and tilts his head slightly in thought. It was illegal for anyone not a shinobi to wear a hiti-ate. But, Sasuke think with amusement, he's never been one to much care for the rules people try to make him follow.

"Okay," Sasuke agrees, his voice once more on the level of a whisper. "But you have to promise not to tell anyone."

Naruto's breath hitches, his eyes wide in astonishment. Sasuke knows that Naruto asked this exact question to Iruka in the past, the blonde sharing it during a deep discussion they had had after their final fight, but that wouldn't have been for years. This is the first time that Naruto has had a genial conversation with a shinobi that wasn't the Sandaime. Sasuke agreeing to allow him to try on the hiti-ate without even making a fuss has thrown Naruto for a complete loop.


"Sure," Sasuke assures with a nod. "I trust you with it."

Naruto is quiet after that, obviously going through their interactions. This is new to the boy, something he's never encountered before, so Sasuke doesn't take the silence to heart. It is weird, not to hear Naruto prattling on, but it's also nice because it means Naruto is thinking about Sasuke and his intentions. Naruto was never dumb. Naïve perhaps, even after all he had been through, but never dumb. He would sense Sasuke's genuine concern and attentiveness towards him and it would give Naruto hope.

"Here you both go," Teuchi breaks in, handing them their orders. Naruto's reverie breaks and he delightedly starts slurping the noodles.

"Itadakimasu," Sasuke says pointedly, amused.

Naruto stops his slurping, blinking at him. He finishes his mouthful before clearing his throat in embarrassment, his cheeks flushing slightly. He mumbles out his own, 'itadakimasu', glancing at Sasuke.

Sasuke smiles at him, nodding, and the blonde immediately goes back to devouring his meal. Teuchi is looking at them with amusement now, no longer searching, and he leaves them to their meal.

Sasuke eats at a much more sedate pace and isn't quite halfway done with his portion before Naruto slams his empty bowl down.

"Ah!" Naruto sighs in contentment.

"Did you want more?" Sasuke asks, his voice left nonchalant.

Naruto freezes for half a second before looking at him with astonishment. "I can have more?"

Sasuke hums his confirmation, but is quick to add, "No more than four bowls."

Naruto has an epileptic fit at this information before screaming for more ramen at a chuckling Teuchi. Sasuke continues to get through his own bowl while Naruto attacks his second and third. Sasuke doesn't mind. Naruto will need to start eating more healthily, especially if he ever wants to grow taller than he was in the old future, but he also needs the calories. He's a jinchuriki and he'll burn through them more quickly than other children would.

Sasuke finishes just moments before Naruto belches, patting his full stomach in relaxed contentment. His four bowls are stacked in front of him and Sasuke idly adds his own empty bowl to the stack. Teuchi takes them, leaving a food order receipt in front of Sasuke. Sasuke pulls out his money pouch, using the money Mikoto gave him to pay for their meal. Sasuke wasn't going to be using it for anything else anyway.

They leave with just as much flare as the arrived with, Naruto shouting a goodbye to Teuchi. Their trip back to the park is more relaxed than their journey to the ramen stand and they eventually stop by the swing they had met at. Naruto is shuffling now, obviously wanting to say something, but unsure if he should.

"What is it, Naruto-kun?" Sasuke finally asks, saving Naruto from agonizing any further.

"Will you be here tomorrow?" Naruto blurts out, hanging his head in an attempt to not meet Sasuke's eye.

Sasuke pauses to think because it's a valid question. He doesn't have the money to buy Naruto ramen every day and soon enough he probably won't have the time to spend relaxing with Naruto. That doesn't mean, however, that he's about to let Naruto be alone again.

"I can't go to Ichiraku every day," Sasuke acknowledges, "but that doesn't mean we can't see each other."

Naruto peaks up at him at the admission.

Sasuke makes sure to make eye contact with the blonde before smiling and softly saying, "If you want, we can go to my house and have lunch there tomorrow."

Naruto's head finally comes up and the grin he offers Sasuke causes a wave of warmth to spread through him.

"Alright, dattebayo!" Naruto shouts in happiness, raising his arms in victory.

Sasuke chuckles lightly at Naruto's enthusiasm before raising an eyebrow when Naruto abruptly stops cheering. The blonde pales for a second before moaning in frustration.

"Oh no!" Naruto wails, his hands coming up to grasp his hair in clumps. "I was supposed to meet Jiji right after lunch!"

"Well, it's only been ten minutes since you finished eating," Sasuke replies with an amused snort. "You have plenty of time if you go now."

Naruto nods quickly, admitting Sasuke's point, before turning and rushing towards the exit. He doesn't stop moving, but he does shout over his shoulder that he'll see 'Jikan-san' at noon tomorrow.

Sasuke watches him go, exasperated, but nonetheless fond. It's quiet for a second, the park deserted, before he turns to the tree beside him, looking up.

"You can come out now, ANBU-san," Sasuke says dryly.

The ANBU shinobi had been following them since the beginning, having been watching Naruto at the park. There would be a constant guard on the young jinchuriki and Sasuke knew that while he could avoid them, ditching Naruto's ANBU guard wouldn't do him any favors with the Sandaime. Sasuke has to brace himself for a moment, because he'd noticed the ANBU's chakra signature long before he'd even walked into the park the first time.

Hound drops from the tree, crouching for a second before standing straight up, his posture tense. He's younger than Sasuke now, though not by much, and it makes Sasuke want to grin when he notices that Kakashi is shorter than him. He probably has a year or two more before he reaches his full height, but Sasuke knows full well that Kakashi, in Sasuke's future, is a centimeter shorter than him. Sasuke knows this only because Naruto threw a fit about still being shorter than Sasuke and wanted to know if he was the only one. Kakashi hadn't appreciated it.

"Hound-san," Sasuke finally says in acknowledgement, leaving his posture relaxed.

Kakashi doesn't say anything, simply eyes him up and down. It would be more intimidating if Sasuke didn't know Kakashi so well. Even without seeing Kakashi's eyes he can read the exhaustion in his frame. It makes Sasuke worry, but he can't do anything about it at this point. Kakashi is on duty and he won't break out his weird personality quirks until the Hound mask is off.

"Uchiha-san," Kakashi replies in return, his voice just as dry as Sasuke's.

Kakashi won't know who Sasuke is yet. Once Sasuke's past comes out, and Kakashi's part in the upcoming events becomes known, that will probably change. Now, however, Kakashi is simply doing his duty by watching Sasuke and his interactions with Naruto.

"You should join us next time, Hound-san," Sasuke invites, knowing that he's just given Kakashi permission to enter the Uchiha compound. Other ANBU aren't permitted in the compound, as agreed to by the Uchiha clan and the village. If one was invited in by one of the Uchiha, however, then it's a different story. Kakashi specifically has been banned from the compound following the incident at Kannabi Bridge, and to have an Uchiha invite him in must surely be a shock to him.

Kakashi doesn't give away his surprise, he's much to good for that, but Sasuke knows he feels it anyway. Kakashi just inclines his head enough to let Sasuke know he's heard him, before he disappears with a shunshin, scattered leaves gliding through the air at his departure. He's more than likely heading in Naruto's direction to follow him to the Hokage's office and to inform the Sandaime of his interaction with Naruto.

Sasuke smiles at nothing, pleased, before heading back to the Uchiha compound, anticipating the summons he will surely get soon enough. After all, not only has he showed interest towards Naruto, Sasuke sensed a somewhat familiar chakra signature arrive in the village while he was eating with Naruto earlier.

Jiraiya had arrived. Now, Sasuke thought, it was time to start pushing his plan forward.

Chapter Text

“Who’s the Uchiha?” a loud, boisterous voice asks.

Sasuke doesn’t turn around to look at Jiraiya, content to watch the slightly exasperated look cross the Sandaime’s face as he greets his former student. The messenger hawk that had requested his presence had already been waiting for him when he returned to the Uchiha compound, just as he had predicted. He’d ambled his way over to the tower and had just been let into the Hokage’s office no more than five minutes before Jiraiya had made his entrance.

“Jiraiya,” the Hokage starts, motioning him forward, “come in; and please, seal the door.”

Jiraiya pauses behind him, most likely taking in the Hokage’s specific word choice, before there’s a shuffling of paper behind him and then the distinct wave of chakra as a privacy seal is activated. Jiraiya strolls forward, looking more nonchalant than he must be feeling, and he takes a seat beside Sasuke, grinning.

“You called me, sensei? You sounded like you needed to tell me something important,” Jiraiya asks, leaning back into his chair with a content sigh, like he held no worries. Sasuke didn’t miss the fact that the Sandaime hadn’t answered Jiraiya’s question, and neither had the toad sage.

“Some sensitive information has come into our hands,” Sandaime explained, his tone and expression equally serious. This seems to sober Jiraiya up some, his gaze sharp as he turns to Sasuke.

“I suppose this has something to do with you, Uchiha?” Jiraiya asks, his eyes assessing his cloaked form.

So rude, Sasuke can’t help but think. Jiraiya, in his time, hadn’t been fond of Sasuke before his death, but Sasuke couldn’t really blame the man for his feelings. This Jiraiya, however, had no excuse for his lack of manners. Sasuke briefly wishes he would blame him for Naruto’s attitude, but alas, the man had come too late into the picture to blame Naruto’s quirks on him.

“Uchiha Jikan,” Sasuke greets. “I come from more than ten years in the future.”

This obviously throw Jiraiya by surprise because his posture slackens with shock and it takes him a moment to gather himself. He doesn’t want to believe Sasuke, his thoughts on the matter plain by the disbelief on his face, but one look exchanged with his former sensei and he’s suddenly straightening up, eyes latched onto Sasuke.

“Jikan? Time?”

“Yes,” Sasuke nods in confirmation. “Any Uchiha who travels through time, and chooses to alter it, takes on the name. Makes it easier for those in the know to identify time travelers.”

Jiraiya lets out a breath of air from his nose, humming in acknowledgement of this information. His gaze is unfocused slightly, his thoughts taking his attention away from those around him.

“Jiraiya,” the Sandaime cuts in, gaining his attention once more, “Jikan-san specifically requested that you come in for a debriefing.”

“Is that so? Well, Jikan-san, what exactly do I need to know?”

Sasuke almost snorted because what didn’t Jiraiya need to know? The man played a huge part in Naruto’s development, which aided them in the future. He also has knowledge about the Akatsuki leaders that could possibly help Sasuke. There won’t be a Naruto this time to talk Nagato out of his dream of peace through war. All Sasuke has is his own ability to give inspiring speeches and the only person that’s ever worked on was a younger Naruto. Once.

“You know the leaders of Akatsuki,” Sasuke explained.

Jiraiya looked at him blankly before replying, “Um, no? I mean, I’ve been hearing about them lately, started doing some digging, but I haven’t even heard a whisper of who exactly is part of the organization.”

Sasuke shakes his head, dismissing Jiraiya’s words. “You misunderstand,” Sasuke explains. “You know them because you taught them. Two of your former students lead them: Konan and Nagato.”

Jiraiya’s jaw drops and his eyes widen, his body shifting to finally face Sasuke at the shocking news. Sasuke wonders how long it’s been since the man gave any thought to the Ame orphans he had once been a sensei to.

“What?” Jiraiya asked, his mouth finally closing as his brow furled. “What about Yahiko?”

“Dead,” Sasuke answers, shaking his head. “Something happened, I’m not sure what, and now his body is used as one of the Six Paths.”

“Six Paths?” the Sandaime asks.

“Six Paths of Pain. An ability only able to be used by a wielder of the Rinnegan.”

Jiraiya curses, his head falling into his hands for a moment. Sasuke allows him to take a moment for himself, allows him to dredge up memories of the past that were long forgotten.

“This is grave news,” the Sandaime says, his hands clasped together on the desk in front of him. “The Rinnegan is a powerful dojutsu. Just what are the Akatsuki after?”

“The tailed beasts,” Sasuke answers just as gravely. “Nagato thinks they can be used to bring peace to the shinobi world. He has a plan, though it was introduced to him, and it won’t go how he thinks it will.”

The Sandaime raises an eyebrow at this, silently asking Sasuke to continue.

“Madara and Zetsu have a statue, the Gedō Mazō, that is able to extract the tailed beast. Nagato doesn’t know that Madara plans on using it to create the Infinite Tsukuyomi, a genjutsu that can trap the entire world into a dream state, effectively enslaving them to their so called ‘perfect worlds.’”

The Sandaime had grown paler and paler with each word out of Sasuke’s mouth and he finally lowers his head some, a wince on his face. Sasuke can almost physically see him regretting thinking Madara and his actions were anything small or insignificant.

“Madara? As in Uchiha Madara?” Jiraiya finally speaks up, his voice slightly higher in pitch. “He’s supposed to be dead.”

“He faked it,” Sasuke answered with a shrug.

This response seems to pain Jiraiya in some way, as he lets out a loud groan before once more letting his face drop into his hands. Sasuke can find some amusement into his reaction, mostly because Sasuke had felt like facepalming a time or two while fighting Madara himself. He hadn’t, the situation had been to raw to feel anything beyond adrenaline fueled determination and fear, but he had certainly wanted to after it was all said and done. His ancestor had fallen to the Curse of Hatred years ago, but Kaguya’s influence had made him cursed and crazy. Not a particularly welcome combination in a shinobi from a clan who always took emotions to the extreme.

“We need to inform the other Kage,” the Sandaime informed Jiraiya, his lips pursed. “We can easily state that you found this information out, they won’t be able to confirm or deny it. This is far too serious of a situation to let it be dealt with by only Konoha. The Jinchuriki are in significant danger.”

Sasuke nods because he agrees. This situation, while still in its infancy at this point in time, explodes later on in the future. People die because of the Akatsuki and their mission.

“Do you have any information on the other members?” Jiraiya inquires once the Sandaime is done talking.

“A little,” Sasuke offers, once more shrugging. “When each member joined is difficult to pinpoint, but I know for a fact that Akasuna no Sasori and Kakuzu, formerly of Taki, have already been folded into their ranks. They go after several others at some point, but most of them join later on. They force a missing-nin from Iwa, Deidara, into joining them after a member defeats him. Hoshigaki Kisame, charmingly known as Kirigakure no Kaijin, joined after he became disillusioned with his village. Another member, Hidan, will become known for slaughtering several of his fellow Yu shinobi before taking off and joining a cult.”

Jiraiya whistles at the descriptions, taking particular notice of the last listed member. “This Hidan have a reason?”

“Yu becomes a tourist trap, preaching pacifism and turning blind eyes to things that shouldn’t be ignored. Apparently, Hidan disagreed with such tactics and let them know.”

There’s a glimmer of interest in Jiraiya’s eyes and it makes Sasuke want to smirk. Jiraiya can be a kind man, can see the best in people, but he’s also Orochimaru’s former teammate. The man has more than one calculating bone in his body. Sasuke doesn’t know if it will work, but it would be easy for Jiraiya to continue to expand his spy network and just happen to stumble upon Deidara, Kisame, or Hidan. Deidara might be harder to recruit than the other two, and the man’s obsession with his art could have him blowing in any direction, but both Kisame and Hidan became disillusioned by their former villages. Konoha extending a hand, while not usually done, could be just what the two need. Kisame would be given the chance to trust a village again, one with the reputation for being all about teamwork, and Hidan would be part of a shinobi village that takes missions where killing others is an expectation.

Sasuke doesn’t mention this, just let’s Jiraiya work up to it. Let Jiraiya think it’s his idea to start recruiting missing-nin. It will give it more leverage when the council eventually gets involved.

“You know a lot about them,” the Sandaime says, asking a question without actually stating it.

“They were after Naruto,” Sasuke responds, because he can double speak just as well as the Hokage can. He knows half of the things he does because he was part of the Akatsuki at one point. He can’t exactly tell the Hokage that, so lying through stating an obvious fact is his best bet.

Both of the other shinobi look at him after his comment, assessing.

“Yes,” Sasuke confirms calmly, “I do know about the Kyuubi. By the end of everything, everyone knows about him. Naruto is better off knowing.”

His last comment gets a reaction from the two, Jiraiya giving the Sandaime a pointed look while the Hokage narrows his eyes at Sasuke’s words, regret and annoyance flashing across his face.

“You will not tell him,” he orders, his voice hard as he addresses Sasuke.

Sasuke tilts his head, taking the older man in. Sasuke doesn’t agree with the Sandaime’s methods. The man is a great shinobi, there is absolutely no doubting that, but he’s made several decisions after his reinstatement that leave Sasuke with a bad taste in his mouth. Naruto not knowing why people hate him is one of them. If Naruto knew it wasn’t his fault, that those civilians a few shinobi were just ignorant, some portion of his pain could be lifted. Instead, he’s left constantly wondering what he’s done, what kind of monster he is, that has the people around him rejecting him at every turn.

The Hokage also continually turns a blind eye to Danzo and his schemes. Sasuke can grudgingly admit that he had also once tried to kill a teammate, but at least Sasuke can say he learned that he was wrong. He grew up and eventually understood the importance that bonds hold. Danzo, however, grew worse with age and eventually his capacity for positive emotions towards anybody but himself was lost.

Sarutobi Hiruzen turned a blind eye to far too many things for Sasuke to follow his orders unquestioningly. The Sandaime had long since stopped being his Hokage. Sasuke hesitated calling Tsunade so, and he would resign himself to acknowledging Kakashi. Naruto, however, would always hold his respect. He hadn’t made it to the seat before Sasuke was ceremoniously dumped back in time, but he had been on his way. After knowing Naruto, knowing how he made decisions and protected people, the Sandaime’s abilities to know what was best for Naruto were pale in comparison.

So, Sasuke lies.

“Of course, Sandaime-sama.”

The Hokage believes him, why wouldn’t he, before he gives Sasuke a curious look. “One of my ANBU informed me that you had lunch with Naruto today.”

Sasuke nods, not denying it, before adding, “We were on a team together.”

Jiraiya perks up at that. Turning to Sasuke once more, he levels him a grin and asks, “Who was your sensei?”

“Hatake Kakashi,” Sasuke offers. He pauses for a moment before tacking on, “He was our sensei as genins, at least. We all branched out after our failed chunin exam.”

“Really?” Jiraiya asks with a raised brow. “Who taught him afterwards?”

“You did,” Sasuke replies, confirming a suspicion Jiraiya must have been chasing. “You’re his godfather, after all. He eventually signed the toad contract.”

Jiraiya seems happy at this news, content for the moment with the level of knowledge he has of the future.

“And yourself?” The Hokage asks politely, his proud smile at Naruto’s future leaking into his voice.

“I eventually trained under Orochimaru,” Sasuke admitted. “Our other teammate, Sakura, trained under Tsunade.”

Jiraiya whistled again, only this one was sharp with interest. “Each got yourself a Sannin, huh?” He asked, his tone impressed.

Sasuke shrugged, not replying. The Sandaime was watching him now, his gaze curious. Sasuke knows Mikoto and Fugaku must have briefed him at some point, telling him that Sasuke had never got promoted past genin. What must he be like for Orochimaru to take an interest in someone who is outwardly seen as weak.

Sasuke is willing to pay the price of the Sandaime’s small suspicions because he’s now established a relationship with Orochimaru. Either Jiraiya or the Sandaime will inform the snake Sannin of his student from the future. Orochimaru will grow curious and eventually seek Sasuke out.

Sasuke needs Orochimaru in the village, and be willing to work with him, for his plans to progress. He almost doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s almost excited to see his old mentor.

Sasuke knows him well enough to know that Orochimaru was always up for an interesting conversation.


Chapter Text

Sasuke let the breeze ruffle his hair, his eyes closed in contentment. The weather was on the cool side today, but the warm sun was counteracting the slight chill, leaving the temperature more decent than it had been earlier in the morning. It wasn't quite lunch time yet, still two hours away, so Sasuke had absconded off into the forest for a little peace before he headed to pick up Naruto and bring him back to the compound for lunch.

There were birds singing in the branches above his head, a crow cawing close by to join their mass song.

A slither in the grass.

Sasuke opens his eyes and turns around, not the least bit surprised as Orochimaru stands before him. The snake Sannin is eyeing him in curiosity, thoughts flashing across his eyes. He might seem somewhat stoic to an outsider, especially without his usual creepy smile, but Sasuke has known the man long enough to be able to see that flash of hunger that lays in wait in his eyes. Orochimaru finds him interesting.

"I hear you're a student of mine," Orochimaru comments with a soft hiss, a grin finally gracing his pale face. It brings back memories, most he'd rather forget.

"You tried to kill me more than once," Sasuke answers in turn, a cold smile falling onto his own face.

"Fond memories, I'm sure," Orochimaru throws back, his voice running towards a titillating nature.

The weirdest part is that they were. There are more memories that he wants gone then he wants to keep, but there were moments, especially after the Fourth Shinobi War, that give Sasuke pause.

Sasuke is under no illusions about what kind of person Orochimaru is. He studied under him, was studied by him, and he is unfortunately intimately familiar with how many morals Orochimaru doesn't have. That doesn't keep Sasuke from remembering the cold man that changed. After Orochimaru followed him to war, something he had vowed to never do, the man had seemed to change just slightly. He was still amoral, in no way someone anybody should look up to, but there was suddenly a renewed sense of humanity within him. No more bloody experiments on random children. No kidnapping attempts or mass slaughters. The experiments never stopped, Orochimaru would never not be curious, but they no longer held the violent edge they once did.

Orochimaru changed just enough that Sasuke wants to keep him around. He wasn't family, not like Team 7 or even Team Taka, but he was something.

Sasuke lets his cold smile warm slightly, lets the reluctant affection enter his face, before shrugging.

"I hear you're a genin," Orochimaru adds nonchalantly, his dangerous smile not wavering for even a moment.

Sasuke jerks his head in confirmation before forcing chakra into his legs and flipping out of the way just as a doton clone emerges from the ground behind him. The clone had lashed out, attempting to take his head off, but Sasuke had already leaped out of its range by the time it was taking a swing.

"You're rather fast for a genin," Orochimaru remarks off-handedly.

Sasuke lands, his face blank as he stares the Sannin down. Orochimaru was strong, is strong, and if the man knew how strong Sasuke was, he would either pull out all of his tricks or he would retreat until a better opportunity at subterfuge was presented. To Sasuke's satisfaction, however, his status as a genin has allowed Orochimaru to underestimate him. The man might know intellectually that a future version of himself allowed Sasuke to study under him, but that doesn't mean it quite penetrates into his mind. Sasuke looks outwardly weak, so Orochimaru is curious. He feels the need to challenge Sasuke, to see if his future self saw something in Sasuke that he can't. It works to Sasuke's advantage at any rate. Orochimaru, while fascinated by the Sharingan, has yet to fight against anyone who holds something higher than the first stage. He has not faced anything that Sasuke can throw at him.

With a smug smirk that he can't keep from his face, Sasuke raises his arm and watches in satisfaction as chakra chains whip forward, attaching themselves to Orochimaru while the snake Sannin lets his surprise get the best of him. An older, more experienced Orochimaru probably would've been able to avoid the chains, at least for enough time to escape, but this Orochimaru is clearly not as modified as the older one. With the amount of chakra Sasuke needs to keep the chains whole and sturdy, the tomoe in his Rinnegan are probably gone with the used chakra. He doesn't reveal his eye though, not to Orochimaru. While a regular Rinnegan is less intimidating than one with tomoe, it's still a Rinnegan. No need to borrow more trouble than he's already seeking.

He wasn't quite sure if the chains would work. Each Rinnegan seemed to allow the user to use different aspects of its abilities. Sasuke had been mostly experimenting with his unique teleportation ability, but other possibilities had crossed his mind. He wasn't sure if he had access to all or even a few of the Paths, but he promised himself that once everything was said and done, he would finally get back around to exploring his abilities.

Orochimaru pulled at the chains, no trace of panic on his features. He seemed to be examining them, taking in their strength and supernatural glow, before he turns mischievous eyes onto Sasuke and offers him a more genuine grin.

"You're just full of surprises," Orochimaru chirps in delight. His pleasure at the circumstances almost makes Sasuke uncomfortable, but he's dealt with Orochimaru being far creepier than he is now, so he chooses to not let it bother him.

"You're not," he offers in retort. "You're stronger in my time. It would've taken a lot longer to get you trussed up."

Orochimaru's face flashes in annoyance at the insult, but he clearly likes hearing about how strong he'll become because he otherwise only tilts his head and swallows down any scathing comments he might've been thinking of making.

"I can help you," Sasuke offers, meeting the Sannin's eyes.

Orochimaru is watching him with intent now, the gleam in his eye almost desperate with anticipation. His lips curl up into a cruel grin, his face contorting as he no longer bothers hiding his cruelness behind saccharine looks. "How so?"

"I know where Ryūchi Cave is," Sasuke throws out, satisfied.

Orochimaru had been the only Sannin not able to reach Sage Mode through his chosen summoning contract. It had rankled the man, Sasuke knew, to be as strong as he was and still unable to access that perk of the summoning contract. The man had made far too many alterations to his body in the future for him to be able to collect natural chakra into his body. This younger version, the one who had been watched warily within the village, would've never had the opportunity to change his body in obvious ways. He could still achieve that long sought after edge that he had been unable to access in the future. This fact is a card that Sasuke knows will be to his advantage.

Orochimaru is standing up straight now, no more lanky stance or serpentine curves. His eyes are far more serious than they've been this entire time. Sasuke has suddenly made himself a valuable asset, as well as an unknown threat.

"What do you want in return?" Orochimaru asks, his tone a begrudging hiss. The Sannin obviously holds no illusions as to why Sasuke has shared this information. He knows Sasuke studied under him and it's a known fact that Orochimaru never does anything unless it benefits him in some way.

"I just need a small favor," Sasuke answers with a shrug, finally retracting the chakra chains from around the other's body. Orochimaru doesn't move, just continues to watch him with a calculating gaze, so Sasuke gives Orochimaru his best Uchiha smirk and, as nonchalantly as he can manage, says, "I need you to uproot the rot currently strangling the village."

Sasuke can't say it out loud. He can't plainly tell Orochimaru he needs to shove ROOT into the light or that he needs to kill Danzo. Not with their audience.

"Ah," Orochimaru hisses out, his signature grin firmly back in place. "The poison apple was picked in the future?"

"And disposed of," Sasuke confirms with a humorless grin.

Orochimaru lets out a chuckle, the amusement and satisfaction he feels at the revealed information clear in his now relaxed stance. Orochimaru might've worked under Danzo, but he also never liked the man. He thought him manipulative, and coming from Orochimaru, that's saying something.

"So you need me to speed things along?"

"You're in the best position to do so," Sasuke replies with a nod. Orochimaru would still be a part of ROOT, plus he was close enough to Danzo in this time to get it done. They were collaborating on several different—experiments—at this point in time. Orochimaru had been the one to help Danzo fuse several different Sharingan to his body. Sasuke twitches briefly at the thought but doesn't pursue it. He made peace with that fact years ago. Orochimaru hadn't participated in the massacre; he had only used the parts that had been handed to him. A morbid thought, but an unfortunate truth. Orochimaru didn't have the morality others did and Sasuke had long accepted that fact.

"Are you looking for any specific results?" Orochimaru asked curiously.

"Make sure all the roots see the light of day. We don't want any weeds sticking around," Sasuke orders, his voice grim. If Danzo lives, if he manages to escape the assassination attempt Sasuke is ordering Orochimaru to do, then it could all fall apart. The man had sleeper agents everywhere.

Sasuke is relieved when Orochimaru smirks at him, the creepy smile replaced by a devious smirk, and moves his head in a small nod. Sasuke could've done this, could've tugged ROOT into the spotlight, but he was an unknown to most of the village. Sasuke had already mentioned Danzo's crimes to the Sandaime, and yet nothing had been done. If Sasuke went against the Hokage's orders, he would be severely disabled in his ability to move around unwatched. By getting Orochimaru to do the dirty work, Sasuke can claim full ignorance.

It also has another benefit, Sasuke ponders as he watches the snake Sannin turn and flee from the silent clearing. By having it be Orochimaru who reveals the dirty underground within the village, he will be seen in a more favorable light. He was passed by as the next Hokage because of his lack of morals. People don't see him as a monster, not yet, but they do feel uncomfortable and fearful of the last Sannin that remains in the village. He is dangerous and he doesn't attempt to hide it like other shinobi do. By presenting Orochimaru in a hero role, it is likely that any crimes he might be implicated in will either have a reduced sentence or even be brushed under the rug. This plan can easily make it look like Orochimaru was ordered to do any experiments; that he was pushed too tightly into a corner and finally struck back in defense, much like a snake would. If Orochimaru is allowed to stay in the village, Otogakure will not form, nor will they make an alliance with Sunagakure in order to invade Konoha. If Orochimaru stays, the Sandaime will not be killed in the ensuing battle.

A future event, gone in the blink of an eye.

"You can come out now if you want to," Sasuke says, closing his eyes once more to let the breeze blow around him. He can feel a sense of déjà vu at once again instructing an eaves dropper to reveal themselves, but he also feels amusement. When he opens his eyes, he meets the whirling Mangekyou Sharingan, Uchiha Shisui staring him down. He's no longer warm in his welcome, his eyes and his tight frown hinting at his displeasure.

"I assume you have a few questions," Sasuke starts, moving his eyes away from Shisui's. He wouldn't use his technique on Sasuke, but there was no reason to chance fate.

"More than a few," Shisui replies dryly, his eyes narrowed.

"Shoot," Sasuke snorts out, calmly gesturing Shisui to continue.

The other Uchiha had been following Sasuke since he left the compound earlier with his declaration of wanting some time to himself. He figures Shisui was merely curious at the beginning, but with his message heavy conversation with Orochimaru, he's gone from curious to deeply suspicious. He's not stupid, after all.

Shisui wanted answers and Sasuke was fully prepared to give them to him.

Chapter Text

"Your double speak wasn't very hard to decipher," Shisui mocks, watching Sasuke with sharp, suspecting eyes.

Sasuke shrugs, making sure to keep his hand visible at all times. He doesn't want to fight Shisui. He had the advantage against Orochimaru—he knew the snake Sannin's fighting style, as well as being underestimated—but Shisui had seen that Sasuke was no Genin level shinobi. Plus, Shisui was a talented shinobi himself; he was faster then most people and Sasuke wasn't in the mood to see if he could dodge everything Shisui could throw at him.

"You know about Danzo," Shisui accuses, "that he's been keeping an eye on the Uchiha. You know about ROOT."

Sasuke nods, taking idle steps towards his clan member. He doesn't want to be threatening, but he'd rather Shisui be whispering his accusations at him, not screaming in a forest where others could stumble upon them. Sasuke had been lucky enough to know when he was being followed and spied on so far; he didn't want to chance his luck running out. He makes sure to stop with Shisui just out of arm's length, giving the other man some level of confidence in his ability to stay out of reach.

"You wouldn't know about it unless something happened," Shisui finally summarized his thoughts, glaring down at Sasuke suspiciously.

It's not exactly true; Sasuke is old enough now that someone could've told him about Danzo's machinations against the Uchiha Clan. If Itachi, or even his parents, had lived long enough, Sasuke might've been informed about the dangerous times he had grown up in. It is doubtful, Sasuke acknowledges, especially since he is Itachi's precious younger brother. Itachi would've protected Sasuke from that harsh truth, made Sasuke believe he grew up safe. For Sasuke to hold a vendetta against Danzo, it must mean that the man's plans against the Uchiha came to fruition in some way or another.

Sasuke, needing to speed this along, goes for the bluntest approach he can, and replies, "The coup d'état fails."

Shisui jolts, eyes widening at the implications. The coup was dangerous on many grounds; it included a lot of lives lost and a lot of possible dissent. If the Uchiha attempted to rebel and then lost, well, no Uchiha would escape the repercussions of the actions of the older generation. Shisui hadn't been in favor of the coup in the first place, so to hear that his worst fears had been recognized, that the Uchiha betrayed the village and then were likely punished for it, must be sending him in a tail spin of emotions.

"I can't stop it," Shisui whispers in shock, despair creeping into his voice. His Mangekyou Sharingan has deactivated at the shocking revelation and he's no longer looking at Sasuke, his gaze now trained on some far-off point.

"You try to," Sasuke says, "but Danzo got to you first."

Shisui's eyes sharpen and he turns back to Sasuke, a determination leaking into his frame. His back is rigid and his whole body stiff as he grinds his teeth. "How? I should be stronger than him!"

Which is true. Shisui, at the time of his death, should have had no trouble with Danzo. The man was an accomplished shinobi, but he was older and out of practice. If he hadn't surprised Shisui with the stolen Sharingan, the entire affair would've been over and done with.

"He stole a Sharingan." Sasuke answer truthfully, adding another nail into the coffin that is Danzo's fate. Stealing kekkei genkai is a crime punishable by death. It's a horrid accusation to have thrown on you. The fact that it's true, that Danzo cares only about what it can give him in terms of power in Konoha, it just as bad. The man may claim to be doing what is best for the village, but all his actions ever do is lead the village further to its own destruction. The Uchiha clan helped build the village, helped bring a balance to it, and the idea that they shouldn't be a part of the village is laughable. It's twisted teachings from the Nidaime that clung too tightly to Danzo's psych.

Sasuke had interacted with Senju Tobirama, had asked questions and been given answers. He was familiar with the Nidaime's brand of cynicism; Tobirama wasn't prejudiced against the Uchiha per se, rather, he knew of the Uchiha's Curse of Hatred and took measures to ensure that it wouldn't consume the village should it ever overpower the clan as a whole. The mistake in his thinking came with his ideas that the curse couldn't been taken away once someone fell to it. Sasuke is the perfect example. If the Uchiha had been helped, rather than placated, the circumstances of the Uchiha massacre would never have been met. If Tobirama had preached loyalty and inclusion, maybe Danzo would never have gotten it into his head that the Uchiha were irredeemable.

"Theft!" Shisui cursed, breaking Sasuke from his reverie. "That bastard! To go that far—," Shisui cuts himself off with a growl of disgust. His calculating gaze burns as it catches Sasuke's eye. "Just how far does this conspiracy go? You're doing a lot of suspicious things, Jikan-san."

"The Uchiha seem to be the cause of a lot of conflict within the village," Sasuke responds. "Suspicion that they were involved with the Kyuubi being one of them. Odd that that little rumor sprung up just in time for the council to decide that the Uchiha compound should be closed off."

Shisui's mind is racing, the flickering of his gaze giving him away. Danzo cornered the Uchiha and his machinations started the beginning of the end for the clan. Sasuke will give Shisui as many answers as he can, as many incentives as he has to, to get the Uchiha on his side.

"Is there any way to stop all of it?" Shisui asks, resigned. "Does Danzo have to die in order for the entire affair to not happen?"

Sasuke takes a moment to reflect. Orochimaru is going after Danzo, has plans on assassinating him. With Danzo dead, would the rumors and suspicion of the Uchiha clan cease? No, Sasuke decides quickly. The seeds were planted. The Uchiha were frustrated and felt betrayed; the elders would push for the rebellion and it wouldn't matter that Danzo was dead. The Uchiha burnt when they felt anger; it wouldn't be extinguished with just one placating action.

Sasuke shakes his head in reply, meeting Shisui's gaze head on for the first time. "Danzo needs to die for the rumors to stop, but the stage is already set. To keep the actors from going through with the performance, they'll need to be convinced otherwise." Sasuke stresses the word purposefully, watching Shisui catch on in only a second.

Kotoamatsukami," Shisui breathes, almost indistinguishable from the breezy air. His eyes are wide with surprise. He had come to this very conclusion in Sasuke's past, but maybe the idea of using his Mangekyou ability on the elders had not yet occurred to him in this time.

"Get the elders to throw away the plan," Sasuke agrees with a sharp nod. "Once they stop pushing, other ideas can come forward. With the rumors dying and the Uchiha making an effort, reforms on the treatment of the clan should soon follow."

Shisui's eyes are sparkling now and the hostility he held towards Sasuke is virtually gone. There's still some tenseness in his shoulder, but it's to be expected. Sasuke knows too much to not be involved with his clan's future, and Shisui suspects that it's not a pretty one. For Sasuke to come back and change this, it must be bad. Sasuke isn't saying anything though, and that ticks Shisui as odd. Sasuke can almost physically see Shisui push away his suspicions of Sasuke in order to grin slightly at him in gratitude.

"You've probably just saved a lot of people," Shisui states, pulling his arm up to scratch idly at the back of his head.

True, Sasuke thinks, but will it be enough? If this works out, if Sasuke successfully changes the massacre, then what is going to happen? Hundreds of Uchiha will go on to live lives that were never realized in Sasuke's future. Sasuke struggles to keep himself from shaking. This is the first deviation point in his history. With hundreds of people—both shinobi and civilian—alive, there could be drastic consequences to the future. Especially to Obito and Zetsu's plans. With more Uchiha running around, the risk that he couldn't pull of his act as Madara increased. The Uchiha were taught about Madara, told to never be like him, so if the real Madara had actually been running around, he would've been faced with several hundred angry and defensive Uchiha. Add on to that with the fact that his plans with the Infinite Tsukiyomi could be discovered if the Uchiha went digging for long enough.

This brought up an interesting question, however: should Sasuke tell Shisui about Obito as Madara? If Sasuke tells Shisui that there's a suspicious Uchiha running around, would that help him in any way? It could very easily backfire, placing even more suspicion on Sasuke himself. Telling others about 'Madara', especially this early in the game, would be disastrous. No, Sasuke decides, keeping 'Madara' to himself was the best thing for now.

"I'll take care of it," Shisui finally speaks again, no longer waiting for Sasuke to reply to his idle comment. He nods at Sasuke, his expression tight with anticipation, before he leaves the same way Orochimaru did, heading back towards the populated areas of Konoha. Sasuke watches him go and doesn't quite fight down the anxiety that is bubbling in his chest.

Sasuke breathes in and then breathes out slowly, tensing his jaw, before he too turns and leaves the clearing. His plans are coming to fruition, hints and outright stating his intentions working so far, but he's only been dealing with the immediate threats until now. He still hasn't done anything about the Akatsuki, nor has he solidified any plans to deal with his future family.

Sasuke pauses, sending his sense outward. It doesn't take him even a moment, finding the familiar, yet slightly different chakra signature. He heads towards it, taking in the position of the sun as he goes. It's not quite noon yet, so he should have enough time to check up on his target before going to the park to meet with Naruto. He doesn't enter the training grounds, instead staying off to the side, half hidden behind a tree.

Kakashi is standing in front of the Memorial Stone, hands in his pockets, as he says something indistinguishable to it. Sasuke doesn't attempt to eavesdrop, no urge to listen to words that don't belong to him. This is the first time he's seen this younger Kakashi without his ANBU mask and its trikes him how much his sensei hasn't changed. He looks younger, of course, shorter and slightly slimmer than his older counterpart, but the hair is the same, as well as the false relaxed stance. Kakashi is idly talking to the Stone, like he's talking to a friend, and it sends a sharp pain through Sasuke's chest. It also causes some burning resentment to form as well.

Sasuke already plans on talking sense into Obito, mostly because that's what his family would want, but seeing Kakashi talking to the Stone, watching him try to live up to Obito's legacy, leaves an ashy taste in his mouth. Kakashi suffered for years, mourned for years, over a childhood he had never had. He pushed himself to be better in honor of a teammate that wasn't even dead; a teammate that had orchestrated his father-figure's death, as well as the destruction of the village he called home.

In the back of his mind, Sasuke is slightly surprised at the protectiveness he feels towards Kakashi. He had always felt strongly about Naruto, but his feelings towards Kakashi and Sakura had been milder in nature. It certainly settles the debate on whether or not Sasuke was going to meddle with their lives. He feels too much for Kakashi now, seeing his sensei despondent over a liar, to back out. Sasuke would bet money that as soon as he spies a tiny Sakura, he will feel the same pull of overprotective rage that he feels now. He needs to start thinking about connecting his future family, so they can have each other like they're supposed to.

Sasuke takes hold of his emotions, pushing them down to get a better handle on them, when the pulsing of his Rinnegan finally registers. He freezes, surprise washing over him. The pounding in his eye socket doesn't hurt; really, but it does feel uncomfortable. It feels like it's resonating.

Suddenly hit with an unbelievable hunch, Sasuke pushes the hair out of his eyes and looks around the training ground with much more scrutiny than he had before. And sure enough, to the left of Kakashi, is a blurred area. Dread starts to fill Sasuke's stomach as he concentrates on the blur, breaking the illusion until he finally can see past the genjutsu set on the area.

Obito, dressed in a damning orange mask and dark cloak, stands several feet away from Kakashi, half hidden within the trees surrounding the area. Sasuke takes half a step forward before he firmly plants his feet to the ground. He can't confront Obito now, not here. It doesn't matter that Sasuke can feel the killing intent now that the mirage has broken. It doesn't matter that his Rinnegan pulses in the need to do something, to fix some disturbance that it feels. He can't confront Obito without more pieces on his side. He can't fight Obito next to the village he's trying to protect, nor in front of the man that would be destroyed to see his once teammate alive and delusional.

Sasuke grits his teeth, and with one last hate filled glare, turns way from the scene. He could watch Kakashi for a bit longer, try to ignore Obito's presence, but he knows it wouldn't work. It makes Sasuke roll his eyes in derision, the idea that Obito spent some amount of time watching his former teammate mourn him, that he still said nothing while leaking out his intent to one day kill Kakashi. It leaves a ball of disgust in Sasuke's stomach. Obito might be redeemable in Naruto's eyes, but Sasuke doubts he'll ever feel much more than disdain for his fellow Uchiha. They all lost people they cared about; even Sasuke eventually grew up enough to stop blaming the people who had no hand in their deaths.

Sasuke keeps walking away, doesn't turn back on the chance that Kakashi, and correspondingly Obito, notice his return. He'll approach Kakashi in due time. First, he has to go collect Naruto and introduce him to the Uchiha. The sooner he gets Naruto to a welcoming environment, the better.

Chapter Text

Sasuke didn’t bother to hide his soft smile, glancing down at a bouncing Naruto. The blond had been waiting for him at the park, curled under the same tree Sasuke had seen him under the first time he had interacted with the young boy. Naruto’s face had it up as soon as he saw Sasuke approaching, his wide grin briefly hiding the relief in his eyes.

“I’ve never been to the Uchiha compound,” Naruto says loudly, his voice getting a few glares from the civilians around them.

Sasuke ignored them the last time, knowing full well that Naruto wouldn’t have wanted him to fight anybody for him, but Sasuke doesn’t let their hatred go a second time. He glares back, his eyes dark and sharp. The untrained civilians are quick to look away from the pair, many of them growing pale at the sneer Sasuke sends towards them.

“The Uchiha usually keep to themselves,” Sasuke offers, turning his attention back towards his friend. Naruto has his hands behind his head, his eyes narrowed as he marches down the street.

“Why?” Naruto asks, giving Sasuke a sideways glance.

Sasuke hums to acknowledge Naruto’s question, but doesn’t immediately answer him. The Uchiha and their relationship with the village was a long and complicated affair that Sasuke would never be able to explain to Naruto at this age. The Uchiha were arrogant on their best days, but they were also loyal unless they felt they were being betrayed. They held many faults, but a lot of the rumors they faced in this time were unjustly spread and false. “The village doesn’t like us as much as they used to,” Sasuke eventually answers, steering Naruto towards the branch in the street that would lead to the compound.

Naruto lets him, his shoulders at ease as Sasuke guides him. It brings his earlier smiled back, his eyes soft as he briefly looks down at the blond head. Seeing Naruto willing to trust touch, not yet flinching back with suspicious eyes and a narrow gaze, is something Sasuke never thought he’d see. Naruto, the future one, had gotten used to touch, had smiled bright when Sasuke would bump his shoulder or when Sakura would link their arms together. Naruto might’ve grimaced when Kakashi tousled his hair, it was because he thought Kakashi was treating him like a kid, and not because he didn’t want to be touched. It took a lot to get him there though. Being abused and neglected throughout his childhood had left a touch starved boy who didn’t know how to deal with physical interactions. This younger version, however, was still young enough that he craved touch, but wasn’t yet starved or startled by receiving it. Sasuke hoped to remedy any insecurities Naruto might’ve already gained concerning the topic.

Thoughts of Sakura bring her to his mind. She’s with her biological family, happy at home, but bullied outside of it. She would find Ino, would gain confidence from her, but Sasuke knows he can’t leave it alone. She stronger than most people realize and Sasuke knows that both his younger self and Naruto would benefit from her hidden strength. He’ll have to find her soon and introduce her to the dynamic that will grow beyond their wildest dreams.

He nodded briefly at the two Uchiha standing guard at the main entrance, nudging Naruto forward. The compound wasn’t as active as it could be, most of the active shinobi out with the police force. There were some civilian Uchiha maintaining various stands, but Sasuke and Naruto were mostly ignored as they went about their day.

By the time they got to the clan head’s house, Naruto was situated behind him, warily keeping Sasuke as a guard in front of him. Sasuke didn’t comment on this, knowing that Naruto might be willing to trust him, but that that didn’t mean he was ready to trust all Uchiha. Which, to be fair, was a good attitude to have.

“Jikan-san!” Younger Sasuke shouted, smiling sweetly up at him.

Sasuke smiled back and smoothly slid to the side, allowing Naruto to come into view. “Sasuke, this is Naruto. He’s a friend of him. I invited him over for lunch.”

The younger Sasuke looked Naruto over curiously, obviously recognizing him. He looked back up at his older counterpart and Sasuke was intrigued to see the calculating gaze in his eyes. Sasuke wasn’t dumb, was always rather smart, so the fact that he had introduced Naruto as a friend was an easy connection for the younger Sasuke to make. During his early childhood, before everything turned to ash, Sasuke had been a lonely kid. The other Uchiha children didn’t often include him in their games, and his brother complex had left him craving the attention of Itachi instead of his year-mates. To find out he had a friend in the future, someone important enough to introduce to his younger self, must leave the child version giddy with anticipation.

“My name is Sasuke,” the young Uchiha finally said, turning his smile to Naruto. “If you’re a friend of Jikan-san, then you’re a friend of mine!”

Naruto looked shocked, his mouth slightly open. He had violently twitched when Sasuke had called him a friend, and then to hear it reinforced by the young boy in front of him must have shaken him emotionally.

“R-Really?” Naruto asked, stumbling over the word. He looked up at Sasuke, all wide eyed and hopeful, and Sasuke was weak against those glistening eyes. He smiled back, letting his lips form a full grin, something he hasn’t worn in over a decade, and he nods.

Naruto starts to tear up but is quick to wipe them away. He finally turns his attention back to a friendly younger Sasuke and introduces himself, “I’m Uzumaki Naruto!”

“Why don’t you two go play in the garden? I’ll go help Mikoto prepare lunch,” Sasuke instructs, watching his younger self grab a hold of Naruto’s hand as he drags him to the back of the house. Naruto glances over his shoulder, giving him a watery grateful smile, before he stops dragging his feet and runs beside his new friend.

Sasuke lets out a shuttering breath, watching their backs as they disappear around the corner. That image, of a younger Sasuke holding Naruto’s hand, makes a weight lift off of his chest. He holds so many regrets, so many times that he wishes with all of his heart that he could take back, and seeing one of his past mistakes right itself, is indescribable. He prays that his younger self, one unburdened by loss and psychological torment, will be the friend and companion that Naruto always deserved.

“You were friends with him?” Mikoto asks, stepping out onto the porch. “With the Kyuubi container?”

“With Kushina’s son,” Sasuke corrects, meeting Mikoto’s mournful gaze.

It had been a coincidence, Sasuke hadn’t been searching for it, but when he had gone back to the compound after the Fourth Shinobi War, he had started going through his parent’s belongings. He had left them there all those years, never moving anything, and he had finally come to accept that he needed to put his past to rest. It was then that he stumbled upon an old picture of his mother’s genin team. He hadn’t immediately recognized the red-headed kunoichi next to her, too bust staring at his mother’s younger face, but he eventually turned to examine her team and it had to blink back shock at seeing Naruto’s face. There was some differences of course, the lack of bright blond hair and brilliant blue eyes, but Naruto took after his mother when it comes to facial features. It had surprised him, learning something about his mother long after her death. The idea that she was teammates with Kushina Uzumaki, that she was probably even friends with her, shook him. It made him mourn because if both of their mothers had been alive, Naruto and Sasuke probably would’ve been friends long before everything went wrong.

Mikoto exhales, like she’s letting out a breath she’s held for too long, and she gives Sasuke a tired smile, sadness etched across her furrowed brow. “It was odd at the time, having two kunoichi on the same team, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Kushina-chan was my best friend,” Mikoto confessed, drawing her hands up to wipe away a stray tear. “To not be able to help her son because of the clan’s position…it broke my heart.”

“We were teammates too,” Sasuke replies, debating with himself as he eyes Mikoto’s hunched form. He’s been comforting a lot of people since he got to the past, but he can’t help himself. He makes his way to Mikoto and lays a gentle had on her shoulder, squeezing it slightly in comfort. “Naruto was one of my important people. He eventually became like family.”

Mikoto lets out a soft sob at that, but her smile remains firm on her face. She is obviously happy by the news, but her distraught feelings at being confronted with the memory of Kushina is obviously wreaking havoc on her nerves. “Why don’t I go pick up lunch?” Sasuke suggests, giving one last squeeze before pulling away. “Eating out every once and a while gives you a much-deserved break.”

Mikoto frets about the option briefly, but ultimately nods in agreement. Sasuke can go pick up some bento boxes, choosing what each person would prefer, and she’ll get the chance to compose herself before she has to directly interact with the young Uzumaki. “Thank you, Jikan-san.”

Sasuke nods, turning away from a retreating Mikoto, and heading back towards the food stands he and Naruto had passed earlier. He took his time, idly looking over his options. It was when he was looking at the prices for dango that it suddenly occurred to him that he hadn’t sensed Itachi when he had wandered up to the house earlier. Where had his brother gone?


Sasuke broke out of his thoughts, looking over his shoulder to meet the serious gaze of Shisui. They had seen each other not even two hours ago, so it was strange that he was already seeking Sasuke out once more. “Shisui, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“There’s some things we need to go over,” Shisui says casually, like they aren’t talking about planning a coup against their own clan.

Sasuke hums, taking another look at the menu in front of him. Mikoto, while stronger than most people Sasuke knows, would probably take a while to really gather her wits. Naruto and Sasuke could keep themselves occupied. Fugaku would be at work until dinner time and Itachi was currently nowhere to be found, so it wasn’t like Sasuke didn’t have a minute to answer any questions Shisui had. He nods, turning to face Shisui. They start out in a light run, but they quickly pick up speed and change their pattern of movement. The minute Shisui suppresses his chakra signature, Sasuke does the same, suddenly knowing exactly where they’re headed. The Naka Shrine was where the Uchiha Clan had once met to plan the coup, so that meeting place was off limits as too risky. When they slip out of Konoha, heading into the forest, Sasuke’s suspicions are confirmed.

That dreaded hideout, the one Sasuke had fought Itachi in all those years ago, came into view. Sasuke had never really contemplated on how close the hideout actually was to Konoha, but he and Shisui had only been running for about fifteen minutes. They had stayed silent as they headed towards the hidden structure, neither willing to risk exposure if they were indeed being followed.

Shisui leads them into the darkened tunnels and Sasuke can feel his memories coming to the surface, threatening to suffocate him. The hideout had been destroyed after the final fight between the brothers and he had never been forced to face the ruins of one of his greatest regrets. To see the structure looking like it had when he had first marched towards Itachi’s death was nightmare fuel.

They enter the main chamber, that infernal stone throne large and foreboding in the back of the room, and it takes Sasuke a moment to drag himself away from his anguished mourning to really take in the entire room. The biggest difference from last time, Sasuke thinks with shock, is the amount of Uchiha that now have gathered in the hall. They only number about thirty or so, but they are all from the younger generation of Uchiha. Old enough to be established shinobi, but younger than the older adults who were planning a coup against the village.

Sasuke had never really thought about the lost generations that were taken the night of the massacre. He’s confronted with it now, seeing faces that he doesn’t recognize. The Uchiha who had died that night had eventually become faceless beings, people who were murdered around him, but abstract for the most part. He remembered his family’s faces, he could never forget, but seeing these young shinobi, all of them eyeing him warily, thoroughly throws him for a loop.

“We all want to stop the coup,” Shisui says, walking forward to the middle of the room. Itachi emerges from the crowd, taking his stance by his cousin. Itachi, Sasuke notices, seems to be the youngest person here. “The older generation’s decision will lead to anarchy. We don’t want that,” Shisui explains, stressing how much the idea displeases him.

This lost generation, Sasuke thinks, are comrades that never got the chance to fight back last time. They were murdered, massacred, and all their dreams of protecting their village, of fighting for something, was lost in a single night. This thought isn’t what sends Sasuke over, but it’s the last straw on his strained composure. He collapses forward in front of everyone, his knees meeting the hard ground, jolting his bones painfully. He lets his head fall into his hand and he forces himself to breathe through his panic.

He’s been putting this off for too long. He’s gotten close to this panic, this utter devastation as the knowledge of what he’s doing finally catches up to him, but he’s been able to push it aside. The fact is that while his life was hard, he lived. He survived through all of the hardships and mistakes. He grew as a person and finally found a place where he could exist in peace. Having his Sharingan pull him into the past was an opportunity he couldn’t waste, but that doesn’t change the pain. It doesn’t take away the anguish he feels knowing that he will never see his family again. He can form a new one, keep the old family, just new versions, but it will never be the same. He’s taking away the events that glued them together; taking away their circumstances and forging new ones. Seeing extended family in the form of so many young Uchiha has just broken the back on the denial horse. He can’t ignore the fact that this past is not his. These shinobi will go on to live, will make choices, and Sasuke can do nothing about it. His future is truly gone.

“Jikan-san,” Itachi says in worry, his foot steps light as they approach him.

Sasuke feels that small hand touch his back, the gesture soft, and it wrenches a brief sob out of him. He can’t do this alone, he realizes suddenly. He’s been making plans, keeping things to himself, but he can’t keep doing that. He has all the information, knows too much, for him to be objective. Some decisions stay the same; Danzo must die, ‘Madara’ being Obito must stay a secret, and the Akatsuki must be taken care of, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t ask for help. These Uchiha, these teens and young adults, just want to help him. They can’t help with everything, but they can certainly help him prevent a tragedy they were all effected by.

“I don’t know any of you,” Sasuke confesses, leaving his head bowed. “At the age of seven, the majority of the Uchiha clan was massacred in one night. I grew up alone, with no one left.”

There’s a beat of stunned silence before shouts of shock and confusion rain down upon him. Sasuke takes it in, takes in the incredulous belief that something like that could happen to them, and lets it settle him. In this world, nothing like the atrocity of the Uchiha Massacre will ever happen again.

“I thought I had to take care of things alone, or with as little help as possible,” Sasuke says, finally looking up and searching for Shisui’s concerned gaze. “I forgot that the massacre affected more than just my family. It effected an entire clan. It affected everyone in the room. In my future, the Uchiha Clan would have died with my death. In this future, I want to be able to die with the knowledge that we still live on; that the Uchiha clan will continue to prosper in Konoha.”

Shisui comes up to stand next to Itachi, his own hand resting firm against Sasuke’s back. There’s determination in the two teens in front of him, and Sasuke doesn’t doubt that the others around them look much the same.

“You’re not alone,” Shisui vows, looking around at their clan. Others step forward, coming closer to surround the trio. This crowd, these shinobi, are willing to do anything to prosper, to make sure that their clan stays loyal. “Tell us.”

“The clan is murdered within one night,” Sasuke starts, shifting so he’s resting more comfortably on his knees. He doesn’t think he can tell this story while standing up. “The elders were determined to start a coup and a member of the council finds out. They go behind the Hokage’s back and order one of us to massacre the clan.”

There’re whispers now, threading throughout the crowd, but Sasuke has his eyes on Itachi. His brother, who is tense and staring at him like he’s made a nauseating realization. “To make matters worse, it is discovered that Uchiha Madara is alive and seeking revenge.”

“Madara?” Shisui asks, his voice sharp with shock. Similar exclamations come from their clan members. Itachi stays silent.

“He helps,” Sasuke confesses, his voice dropping to a whisper. This is so much harder than he thought it would be. It would never be pleasant, he knew. But having to explain the massacre to Uchiha who died during it was a whole new level of off putting. “He convinces the Uchiha who helped to join him. He manipulated them. None of it would’ve happened if the clan wasn’t so determined to rebel.”

He’s not giving them everything, doesn’t think he could if he tried, but it’s far more than he ever thought he would tell about the future. There’s a wave of fear coming from the people around them, like they truly are starting to understand how serious the situation is, but Shisui isn’t one of them. He’s stone faced and frowning, one hand gripping Sasuke’s shoulder and the other latched onto Itachi’s trembling arm. The others might not notice, due to Itachi’s general detachment from his peers, but Shisui would have surely realized that there was probably a reason that Sasuke survived while no one else did. Shisui knows Itachi too well not to have guess who the manipulated murdered from Sasuke’s past was.

“We won’t let it come to that,” Shisui hisses, nodding his head at Sasuke. It’s all the confirmation Sasuke needs to know that if Shisui held any reservations about using his Mangekyou on the clan, they are now long gone. They need to discuss more, figure out when the best time it would be to get to the Uchiha elders, but Sasuke is exhausted and trying to hide the tremble of emotional fatigue. He hasn’t broken down to cry in a long time, so numb before slowly healing, that this entire encounter has left him shaken. Crying in front of others has left him feeling unlike himself.

“Let them know,” Sasuke requests, stumbling to his feet. He doesn’t tell Shisui that he’s leaving, just takes a step forward to wrap Itachi in his arms. His brother already knows that Sasuke forgave him, that his circumstances were garbage, but that won’t help alleviate the shock. Sasuke feels awful and guilty for not taking Itachi with him, for not comforting his brother more, but he’s run out of emotional support for other people. Until he’s more stable, he won’t be able to comfort anyone. He gives Itachi a brief squeeze before pulling away. He turns and the others let him through, some reaching out to brush against him in signs of support and comfort. The Uchiha are supposed to be arrogant and cold, but all Sasuke receives from them is humility and burning determination to not let his past become their future. He’ll have to talk to them one on one at some point, get to know these shinobi who are so very brave, but right now he needs time to gather himself.

He exits the hideout, letting the fresh air cleanse his lungs of the dank air from underground. This is a new page, a new chapter, in the Uchiha clan and while he’s feeling distraught, Sasuke is incredibly excited to be a part of it. His clan will not fall and be mentioned in history books as lost.


Chapter Text

In the following two weeks after Sasuke’s breakdown, he takes several moments to step aside from the activity around him to just take a second to breathe it all in. He will be standing in front of a food stall in the Uchiha district and have a couple walking past him nod in his direction, slight smiles on their faces as they acknowledge him. He runs a few errands for Mikoto, just stopping at an Uchiha run grocers for some milk, and the teen at the register throws in a candy bar as well, free of charge. Sasuke gives it to his younger self to share with Naruto, but its like now that he’s finally acknowledged that there’s an entire clan relying on him, he’s suddenly having more interactions with them than ever before.

He feels it deep in his chest every time a young face looks at him with hope. It cracks something inside him, having all that faith from people who have no idea what he’s done to get where he is now. When it becomes to much, that weight of expectation, he always finds himself walking to the same place. He will linger in the woods outside of the memorial stone, face blank but eyes pained, as he watches his old sensei converse with a rock. He spends hour doing this, just watching Kakashi as he fakes being animated to an audience of one. Obito doesn’t appear against after the first time Sasuke sensed him, and it makes him wonder if there was something important going on that day that would make Obito seek his old teammate out like that. Sasuke knows he’ll probably never get an answer, but it continues to bug him every time he himself spies on Kakashi.

He’s on his way to pick up Naruto at the park, Mikoto already busy making dinner while the younger Sasuke attempts to help make food for his new friend, and he stops briefly to do his usual vigil. He can’t stay as long as he usually does, already running late, but even just the moment of observing the man in front of him leaves Sasuke with a small smile upon his face.

He’s getting ready to force his feet to move away when there’s an explosion in the middle of the village. Sasuke activates his Mangekyou Sharingan immediately following the shockwave, eyes snapping towards the smoke cloud that has formed over the hokage tower. He isn’t sure what going on, but if there’s an attack on the village, Sasuke knows his priorities. He immediately starts running, absentmindedly noting that Kakashi has spotted him exiting his usual hiding place. Something that is concerning, for sure, but now isn’t the time for Sasuke to feel embarrassed at being caught with melancholy thoughts.

He makes it to the park in record time, eyes darting back and forth as he searches for Naruto’s bright hair. He spots him next to the swings, which is unusual since the blond usually likes to wait for Sasuke under the tree, but the little girl next to him immediately erases any questions that Sasuke would ask. Of all time for Naruto to befriend Sakura, it had to be in the middle of a possible invasion.

She’s terrified, small body and grasping hands pressed tightly against Naruto’s shaking figure. If any adults had been in the park earlier, they are all gone now. Sasuke gives a quick glance around, suspicious when he can’t find any of Naruto’s usual ANBU guard, but he pushes it aside, eager to gage Naruto and Sakura’s condition.

“Jikan-san!” Naruto shouts when he spots him, tugging Sakura forward as he rushes to him. Sasuke doesn’t need to think about it, immediately crouching down and opening his arms for Naruto. The blond doesn’t catapult himself into them, but it’s a close thing, and he drags Sakura along with him. Both of them are trembling, wide eyes confused and terrified. Sasuke lets himself run his fingers through Naruto’s spiked hair briefly, a calming touch to give the boy some reassurance, before he turns a gentle smile to Sakura.

“Hello,” Sasuke says softly, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I can get you both to safety. Naruto’s been there before.

Sakura hides behind Naruto briefly, shy even in a dire situation. She bites her lip, looking at Sasuke and then beseechingly at Naruto. The boy looks grim, something that upsets Sasuke greatly, but the blond nods and squeezes Sakura’s hand, which gets a small nod from the girl. With her permission given, Sasuke scoops both of them up, Sakura in his arm and Naruto clinging to his back like a monkey, before he takes off back towards the Uchiha compound.

“Where are your parents, Pink-chan?” Sasuke asks.

Sakura curls closer to his shoulder, peeking out at him.

“Her name is Sakura-chan!” Naruto provides directly into his ear, shouting in order to be heard over the noise that has descended upon the village. It leaves Sasuke’s ear ringing and he grimaces. His pain must have hit Sakura’s funny bone because she giggles softly, a hesitant sound that draws Sasuke’s attention back to her.

“Sakura-chan, your parents?”

“They left this morning,” she answers, voice soft enough that Sasuke has to fight against the twinging in his ear to hear her. “I was supposed to stay with Yuki-chan, but she’s a kunoichi and she went to go help.”

Sasuke scowls at her words, immediately unimpressed. Sakura’s parents are travelling merchants, so Sasuke doesn’t blame them for not being there. Back in Sasuke’s future, Sakura had regaled stories of her old babysitter, a kunoichi name Yuki, who had been rather negligent when it came to watching Sakura when her parents were away. She should’ve made sure Sakura was safe before going off, especially since she had been trusted to care for her by Sakura’s parents. Sasuke tightens his hold on Sakura, leaping up out of the street and onto a roof. The rooftops weren’t as busy as the streets, civilians rushing around trying to figure out what’s going on getting in his way.


Sasuke cuts his eye over to Hound, the man appearing beside him. Sasuke stops abruptly, cringing when Naruto gives a startled yelp. Hound reaches and grabs him, extracting him from Sasuke’s back. Sasuke takes a quick moment to look towards the Hokage tower, searching for something. He finds it, that dark twisting chakra clashing with the cool precision Sasuke can only identify as Orochimaru. The snake Sannin has obviously begun whatever plan he’s made to get rid of Danzo.

“Hound,” Sasuke says urgently, turning back to the ANBU, “please take Naruto and Sakura to the Uchiha compound. They will be safe there.”

Sasuke hands Sakura off to a startled Hound, already getting ready to flicker away, when Hound grabs his arm tightly. Sasuke looks back, meeting Kakashi’s panicked gaze through the Hound mask. “It’s fine,” Sasuke reassure, gentling his voice. “I give you permission.” Sasuke takes off after that, making his way towards where the center of the chaos is. The closer he gets, the more activity he is greeted with, varying levels of shinobi darting around as they help civilians away from the eye of whatever storm has started brewing.

Sasuke arrives in time to see Orochimaru deliver a blow to Danzo’s bandaged face, blood splattering as the stolen Sharingan implanted in his face is revealed to the world. Sasuke clenches his hand, his face twisted in disgust, as Danzo doesn’t react to his secret coming out, like he hasn’t just been found guilt of dojutsu theft simply by being seen with an unauthorized Sharingan. The Sandaime is looking grave beside Orochimaru, several ANBU backing both of them up. Danzo isn’t alone, however, ROOT agents slithering there way towards their master. It’s a fight that will destroy half of Konoha should Sasuke let it happen.

He flicks the hair out of his eye, Rinnegan bared as he teleports to just an arm’s length away from Danzo, foot lashing out to kick the older man square in the chest. He goes flying back, smacking into the already crumbling wall behind him. Several ROOT agents spring forward in the next second, various weapons held aloft as they zero in on Sasuke. Sasuke glares them down and, without a single stitch of pity, snarls, “Shinra Tensei,” giving the push enough chakra to affect his attackers, but to leave the Hokage and his protective ANBU unscathed. The ROOT agents go flying back, ejected in mid-air, as Sasuke darts forward, lightning chakra already chirping in his hand.

Danzo has collected himself by the time Sasuke reaches him, however, and his hands are blurring together as he takes in a deep breath, shouting, “Fuuton: Shinkuu Renpa!” as he exhales, several blades of wind rushing towards Sasuke. Sasuke scoffs, quickly dropping his chidori to focus on sending out another Shinra Tensei. He doesn’t stop moving forward though, pushing Danzo back while simultaneously closing the distance.

The man is unbelievably angry as he flips in the air, landing in a crouch to glare fiercely at Sasuke’s approaching form. He won’t be getting any backup, Sasuke can’t help but think viciously, as the ANBU have collected themselves finally and are engaged with the surrounding ROOT agents. Danzo starts to form more hand signs when he has to stop suddenly to deflect a kunai, his attention drawn briefly to the Sandaime, who is fighting three ROOT agents simultaneously. It’s the opening Sasuke needs, Danzo’s attention and Sharingan occupied with his old teammate. He activates Banshou Ten'in, grimly satisfied as Danzo is abruptly pulled towards him. Sasuke meets Danzo burning gaze, anger meeting dark satisfaction as chakra flares in his Mangekyou, eyes spinning as he summons Amaterasu, the black flames unfurling as they latch themselves onto Danzo. The flames are pleasantly warm against his skin, not burning in the slightest, but they are agony for Danzo, who immediately pulls away from Sasuke, screaming.

With Amaterasu clinging to him, there isn’t any trick Danzo can pull to escape death. His Izanagi trick won’t work here, Amaterasu’s inextinguishable flames not being stopped by any method Danzo has access to. It’s a grim fate Danzo is facing and it brings a vicious smile to Sasuke’s face. It doesn’t matter that Sasuke had gotten the chance to kill Danzo once before, in his past. Sasuke hadn’t known everything then, only that the man was partly responsible for his clan’s demise. He hadn’t known the strings Danzo pulled in order to make Naruto’s life miserable. He hadn’t taken into account the machinations the man employed to shape the shinobi world. Now that he does know, he watches Danzo perish with glee.

The Sandaime, on the other hand, does not watch on with glee. He appears next to Sasuke, ROOT enemies taken down, and he settles a heavy hand on Sasuke’s shoulder.

“Put it out, Jikan-san,” the Sandaime says over Danzo’s screams.

“No,” Sasuke replies easily, not taking his eyes off of his target.

The hand on his shoulder tightens, the pale flesh turning red underneath his shirt. It will surely bruise, but Sasuke doesn’t care. Sarutobi had let his nostalgia for his teammate blind him for too long. He had let Danzo go unchecked and look where that got them. Sasuke wasn’t letting up until Danzo was gone for good, damn what the Hokage demanded he do.

“Sensei,” Orochimaru’s hissing voice sounds from Sasuke’s other side. The man appears in his peripheral, wiping blood from his blade as he stares dispassionately at the Sandaime. His intense gaze seems to finally get it through to the elder that there isn’t anything he can do; he can’t save Danzo. The hand on his shoulder squeezes down once more, though this time it is light in apology, before the Hokage extracts himself from Sasuke, turning his back on the now charred corpse that was once his trusted friend.

Sasuke stares down at the burnt body before him, face dark. He finally cuts the chakra he had been feeding the flames, his eye allowing him to cut the flame off, sparks sputtering as they burn up. There’s nothing recognizable left of Danzo or his unnatural body, merely burn skin and charred bones laying atop the ground.

“Genin, hm,” Sandaime says without humor, his back still turned away from the gruesome sight before him. Sasuke shrugs, even though he knows the man won’t see it, and shortens the distance between them with only a few long strides.

“I failed my first chunin exam, like I said,” Sasuke offers, looking out at the destruction around them. “I never tried again. That doesn’t mean I stopped training.”

The buildings around the Hokage tower are just as destroyed as the tower, large chunks of rubble blocking off the street and making thee ground uneven and clunky looking. There are several medic nin seeing to patients, glowing green permeating the area in several spots that Sasuke can see with just a short glance. It doesn’t extend too far into the rest of the village, only about a block in total, but it’s still significant damage done to an area with high traffic. It will be a nightmare to clean up, that’s for sure.

“Hokage-sama,” Hound says, appearing next to the slumping Hokage. He offers a slight nod to Sasuke, indicating that both Naruto and Sakura were safe enough for him to make his way back to the danger zone.

The Sandaime simply nods to his ANBU, tired and weary amongst the battlefield in the middle of his village. Sasuke debates keeping his mouth shut, knowing the Hokage could take it as an insult if he feels inclined that way, but Sasuke still finds himself catching the man’s attention, raising an eyebrow and asking, “You ever think of retirement?”

The short burst of tired laughter that extracts from the man seems to ease his tension, his shoulder drooping from exhaustion instead of the heavy feeling of loss he must be suffering. “Every damn day.”

“May I make a suggestion?” Sasuke asks idly, twirling his thumbs like he had no stake in the following proceedings.

The Hokage just snorts at him, inclining his head to show Sasuke he’s listening.

“I think it might be time for Senju Tsunade to return to Konohagakure,” Sasuke suggests innocently, pleased at the renewed gleam in the older man’s eyes.

“Indeed,” he says speculatively, burning curiosity settling in his eyes. “But first, perhaps we should have a more in-depth discussion on what exactly the hell happens in the future.”

Sasuke smiles sardonically, his sharp grin mocking, as he replies, “I thought you’d never ask.”

Orochimaru snorts from behind him. Sasuke glances back behind him and grimaces as he watches the Sannin poke Danzo’s body with his foot, his head tilted in curiosity. Honestly.


Chapter Text

Tsunade is the best option that Sasuke has access to. Tsunade, in his time, never wavered from her duties, once she actually came back to the village. She was a drunk, and she never gave up that nasty habit, but she still got a lot done with Shizune and Sakura at her side.  Sasuke can’t help but hope that once he drags her back, and he will drag her back, she will create faster change in Konoha than even the first time she took the hat.

Danzo is dead, so she won’t have to put up with him, but his ROOT agents are still active. There’s been some clean up during the last two weeks, Sasuke helping dutifully by supplying the Sandaime with any known agents he remembers from the future. They hadn’t found Sai or his brother, or Tenzo for that matter, but it was still early in the weeding process. Kakashi would surely find his kohai if he’s given enough time to sniff him out.

While Sasuke certainly wants them to be found and reintegrated, if only for his former team’s sake, that isn’t what currently has his attention. After being confronted by the Hokage, Sasuke had volunteered himself to go looking for Tsunade. There were a couple of other things he needed to take care of as well, so leaving the village would only be to his benefit. Besides, with him out of the village, no one will suspect him when the Uchiha clan starts abruptly singing a different tune than the one that had been previously.

There were several events happening outside of the clan that he needed to either fix or stop completely. He had mentioned the soon to be Akatsuki members to Jiraiya in hopes that he would search them out, but now that he has this opportunity, Sasuke finds it an easy decision to seek out one or two of the missing nin. There was also the issue of Gaara. Sasuke hadn’t thought of the future Kazekage, and probably wouldn’t have even remembered his disturbing childhood, until he started thinking of the Akatsuki with a more careful eye. He wouldn’t be the first they went after, but his bijuu being extracted was their first open move. Their identities were no longer being kept secret, their organization revealed to be no mercenary group, but a revolutionizing group bent on extracting the bijuu from their hosts.

Gaara’s control and seal were basically shit and they needed to be improved upon. Sasuke wasn’t quite sure how he was going to manage it, but at least meeting the little boy would give him some type of hope to hold his insanity back from just a bit longer.

“You don’t fight like a genin,” Fugaku says, his tight voice breaking through Sasuke’s thoughts.

Sasuke shifts slightly, his back facing the door where the other man stood. He was slowly accumulating the clothes and other items he would need for his mission and hadn’t been expecting Fugaku to approach him. To be honest, he hadn’t even realized the man had come up behind him until the man had spoken.

Sasuke finishes folding his extra pair of pants before setting them in his pack and finally turning to face the door. Fugaku is visibly angry, his short temper something Sasuke clearly remembers from his childhood.  “People don’t get promotions for plenty of reasons,” is what Sasuke decides to reply, going for as nonchalant as he can get.

Fugaku is clearly not satisfied, pursing his lips in annoyance as he stares Sasuke down.

“I was out of the village,” Sasuke finally breaks, not making eye contact. He didn’t realize how hard it was going to be, not giving his parents the full truth. Sasuke had been close to his mother and had expected it to be hard to lie to her. He hadn’t expected the sour taste in his mouth at directly deceiving his father. It was necessary; there was no reason for them to know that Sasuke abandoned the village. They would ask why they let him get away with it, which would mean he would have to rehash the massacre all over again, only this time with people that directly effected the event that single handedly changed his life. He wasn’t looking forward to ever doing it.

“Why?” Fugaku finally asks, folding his arms.

“I was under an apprenticeship with Orochimaru and he was outside of the village,” Sasuke answers, leaving out the fact that the snake Sanin was out of the village because he was a wanted missing nin.

Fugaku grunts for a response, his narrowed eyes locked onto Sasuke. Not only can he see his suspicious gaze from the corner of his eyes, he can almost feel the frustration that lingers in his father’s gaze. Not willing to stay under his suspicion for any longer, Sasuke turns back around and buckles his bag shut, securing it to his back.

“I’m not quite sure when I’ll be back,” Sasuke offers as he passes by a still stationary Fugaku. He doesn’t wait fro a reply before he heads down the hall, stopping in the kitchen.

He gave a brief goodbye to his younger self and Mikoto early that morning, so the only two Uchiha left on his list are Itachi and Shisui.  Itachi is silently reading a scroll at the table, ignoring Shisui cursing from the stove. Sasuke can’t yet smell or see any smoke, so maybe Shisui’s fourth attempt at rice will actually be edible.

“I’m leaving,” Sasuke says, bringing their attention to his waiting form.

“I still don’t see why it has to be you who goes,” Itachi mutters from his seat, still shaken from the events that have happened in such quick succession. Sasuke had made it a point to spend time with his brother, constantly watching him to make sure he doesn’t succumb to the funk he’s currently found himself in. Knowing the future, even with it being diverted, is a heavy burden especially for someone who would have done something as immoral as massacring their own clan. Itachi still won’t talk about his feelings with Sasuke, but Sasuke isn’t quite sure he would know how to comfort him with words, so he let’s his silent presence do all the work.

“I’m more upset that we don’t get to go with you,” Shisui offers before cursing, a plume of smoke rising as the smell of burnt rice slowly filled the kitchen.

“You’re needed here,” Sasuke stresses, knowing that Shisui will understand his hidden meaning. Shisui had to use his Mangekyou on the elders soon and leaving for a mission with an undetermined length of time would greatly impede his ability to do so. Itachi was his main backup, so the younger teen wouldn’t be able to follow Sasuke either. Danzo might be dead, which did stop a lot of the problems going forward, but Obito and Zetsu were still very much at large. Obito had no problem eradicating his clan the first time, and Sasuke didn’t trust the man not to take another go of it even without a coup as an excuse. It was thoughts like that that made him almost change his mind about trying to redeem the man. “Besides, I’ll have Orochimaru and Kakashi with me.”

Both of them grimaced simultaneously at the mention of his companions and Sasuke had to hide a smile. When he was first offered the mission, he immediately requested Orochimaru be allowed to accompany him. Not only was the snake Sannin aware of him being from the future, he also had knowledge on seals that Sasuke could put to use. He wasn’t Jiraiya, but Orochimaru wasn’t a declared genius for nothing. He would have ideas on how to fix Gaara’s seal almost immediately. Besides, Sasuke owes Orochimaru a visit to Ryūchi Cave. He might even leave the Sannin there for a day or two in order to take care of some other business. It was Kakashi that was going to be a problem.

Not only did the man not know Sasuke’s true identity, but it was clear that the Sandaime had assigned Kakashi to the mission for the sole purpose of keeping an eye on Sasuke. Sasuke hadn’t lied about his status, but he had very clearly not divulged his true strength, and the Sandaime wasn’t an idiot. Sasuke had stepped to far past the Sandaime’s line and a blatantly obvious attempt to attach a babysitter to him was the result. Sasuke still wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do when it came time for him to go off on his own, but he knew he had to think up something eventually, preferably soon.

“Listen,” Sasuke says with an eyeroll, breaking the argument the two younger Uchiha were having. “I have a hawk contract. If I need to get in contact with you, I’ll send someone.”

Sasuke raised a hand as he exited the kitchen, giving one last goodbye to the bickering Uchihas behind him. He wasn’t actually sure if he still held his summoning contracts, now that he was in the past, but Sasuke knew that the summoning animals lived on a different plain than the rest of the world. If anything, he can always reverse summon himself to resign the contract if he has to.

Taking a step out onto the porch, Sasuke raised his hand to block out the bright sunshine as it briefly blinded him. It was sunny for the first time in two days and it was perfect weather to set out for his mission. Hitching his bag slightly higher on his back, Sasuke set off, making his way towards the village gates.

He makes a quick detour, ducking into Ichiraku and smiling at the sight that greets him. Naruto is gulping down what appears to be his third bowl, a grudgingly amused Iruka sitting at his side.  It must be early on in their relationship, as Naruto just joined the academy last week. It was endearing seeing Iruka already taken with the blonde boy. The teen would become like a father to Naruto, so seeing the foundation of that being built was something special.

“Jikan-san!” Naruto cheers happily, grinning at him through a mouthful of ramen.

“Swallow, Naruto,” Sasuke chastises lightly, giving his own pleased grin when Naruto sheepishly does just that.

“Sorry, Jikan-san,” Naruto offers before he narrows his eyes, taking in Sasuke’s attire. “Hey, what’s with the outfit change?”

Sasuke glanced down, taking in his outfit. Since coming to the past, Sasuke had taken to wearing the clothes Mikoto had given him the very first day he had shown up. Now he was once again wearing the outfit he traveled to the past it, cloak once again covering him and hiding his body. “I thought a change would be nice,” Sasuke replies, shrugging. “I’m going on a mission.”

“’Woah!” Naruto shouts, not bothering to lower his voice to a more acceptable level. “Really!? Can I come?”

Sasuke shook his head, chuckling at the pout that immediately graced Naruto’s face. “Not this time, Naruto-kun. Maybe next time, okay?”

It didn’t do much to placate the boy, but then a fourth bowl of ramen was placed in front of him, quickly diverting his attention from Sasuke’s quickly approaching departure.

“Take good care of him,” Sasuke directs at Iruka, amusement bubbling up slightly when the teen sends him a wide-eyed flustered look. He probably wasn’t used to others being a fond of Naruto as he was. This time around, Naruto would have plenty of people to take care of him while he was young, and not just a teenage sensei who didn’t quite know what he was doing.

Iruka eventually nods in acknowledgement and Sasuke leaves, finally finding his way to the gates, where Orochimaru is already waiting.

“We’ll be here for another thirty minutes,” is the first thing he says to Sasuke, idly flipping through some type of science book. Sasuke huffs, knowing full well that Kakashi had already adopted his ‘always late’ trait by this point. With a sigh, Sasuke sits down on the ground, chin resting on his curled fist as he stares at the open gates in front of him, mind whirling.

This has been the longest Sasuke has been back in the village in years. He had run and then when he finally was welcomed back, he had run once again. He never felt right being back in Konoha after all this time, and he could almost feel himself vibrate in his excitement to be on the road once more. He let his mind drift, time passing before a puff of smoke enters his vision and Kakashi appears, his Icha Icha already in hand.

“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” he offers with a fake eye smile, friendliness in his voice dry.

“You’re fine,” Sasuke snorts, standing and dusting off the dirt from his cloak and pants. “Let’s go.” Sasuke took point, leading the other two nin through the gates, wind rushing past them as they made their way up and through the trees.

Sasuke couldn’t lie; he missed this.

Chapter Text

Sasuke wonders if the Sandaime hates himself. Sasuke knows what it's like, placing trust in a person and then having their true colors revealed just in time for them to rip your heart out of your chest a laugh as they squeeze it out of existence.

Sasuke always had self esteem issues, constantly struggling with feeling good about himself when all he does is compare himself to Itachi. He can't ever stop himself, not when everyone around him does the same. Itachi tells him he's his own person, his mother hugs him and says the exact same thing, but it doesn't feel reassuring to him. No matter their intent, it only sounds like they've already given up hope that Sasuke could ever be as good as his aniki. Itachi is smart and talented and adored by the people around them; Sasuke is insignificant next to his shining beacon of a brother.

And then Itachi breaks Sasuke and his self esteem issues go from a sad, dejected voice, to a hissing, venomous whisper that plagues him always. He's never good enough; not strong enough, not fast enough, not smart enough. Itachi is out there, blood on his hands, and Sasuke is back in the village, not able to advance as fast, or as far, as Itachi had. It burns, that venom rushing through his veins. He was obsessed, Uchiha curse aside, and he knew it. He never tried to change that.

That voice, so much like Itachi's, still haunted him from time to time. A taunting whisper of inadequacy. Stronger, one of the strongest, but next to Naruto? Nothing. Not as mean, or cruel; but never as kind as Sakura. Smart, a clever tactician in his own right; not nearly the instinctual genius that Kakashi is. Always measured up and always not enough. And then another voice will spark up, loud and obnoxious, that tells Sasuke to stop being an idiot. That he is not the most powerful or the kindest person, not the smartest, but he still holds all of those traits. He is still a person who is precious to the family around sounds unnervingly like Naruto and it helps Sasuke never doubt himself. No matter how long it's been since the last venomous words slipped into his mind, that brave voice will always pipe up to remind him of who he is, not what he was.

Sasuke has that balance, the ability to truly see himself and his flaws. He is able to evaluate his past mistakes and then move forward. He does not hate himself because he knows he is not perfect.

By the dire look the Sandaime is wearing, even at his age, he has yet to learn that lesson.

Who does the Sandaime have?Sasuke wonders as they both took a seat in the dreary interrogation room. His wife dead, his son estranged, and his only grandson far too young for the matters that haunt the leader of a village. Does he hate himself for breaking the ties that matter, only clinging to the strings that had attempted to play him as a puppet?

"You've clearly kept some things a secret, Jikan-san," Sarutobi says blandly, sharp eyes still haunted. It's only been a few measly hours since he watched Sasuke cut down one of his closest friends, so Sasuke figures the cold demeanor is fair.

"Only that which needed to be kept a secret," Sasuke replies just as blandly, raising an eyebrow when the Hokage twitched at his cheek.

The interrogation room is cold, a chill in the air that was only ever present when in an underground facility. Sasuke was intimately familiar with it from his time with Orochimaru. The temperature, nor the knowledge that his mother was watching from the two-way mirror, was enough to intimidate him. He'd made his choices, picked when he was taking a stand, and now he must deal with those consequences.

"Why did you lie about your skill level?" Sarutobi asked, not even attempting to play any games.

"Because if I had told you that I was a S-rank shinobi who had once fought the kyuubi no kitsune's jinchuriki to a standstill-and lived-you would have either thrown me in jail and had me assassinated, or thrown me in jail to have me evaluated for psychosis."


"I was teammates with Naruto," Sasuke elaborated, eyes boring into the wide eyes of his interrogator. "Due to certain circumstances, we fought each other to near death. We both lost arms for it; but that was all we lost."

The Sandaime stares at him, uncomprehending as Sasuke sits compliantly in front of him. "You're not a genin."

"I didn't lie about that," Sasuke shrugs, letting his elbow rest on the table, propping arm up to let his chin rest in the palm of his hand. "I really didn't pass the first exam. I also never tried to take it again. Never saw the point."

"Nonetheless," Sarutobi choked out, his teeth visibly grinding together, "you lied. Leaving things unsaid, or purposefully misleading others, is lying."

"Not by definition," Sasuke snarks back, before the condescending smirk leaves his face entirely. He takes in the Hokage's red face, his anger reaching new levels, before Sasuke scoffs in derision, finally letting his face draw up into the snarl of annoyance he had been fighting since he first met with the man in his office. "Look, you're not my Hokage. You're a dead man who is suddenly breathing. If it wasn't for me, you would be dead soon enough. And quite frankly, the village would be all the better for it."

"Sasuke!" an outraged shout rings as the interrogation door is shoved open. His mother is a bull in a china shop, uncaring as the door bangs loudly against the stone wall. She has never been as outraged at his behavior as she is now, her face showing how gravely disappointed she is in his manner and words. "You have no right to talk to the Hokage in such a manner!"

"He is not my Hokage!" Sasuke snaps back, a deep snarl present on his face. "My Hokage is Uzumaki Naruto, the Nanadaime! My Hokage would never leave an orphaned child, let alone ajinchuriki, to fend for themselves. My Hokage would never allow his village to treat that child with hatred! Your Hokage may be an old man who should've stayed retired the first time, but mine is a good man who would never let anyone get away with what Danzo has been doing to this village!"

And honestly, that was the crux of it. All he is doing, fighting for the Uchiha's continued survival, the changes he's making, is for the purpose of a better future. The world's problems were not caused by a bitter war hawk masquerading as a fragile old man, but damned if the country's problems weren't. Damned if several country's problems weren't rooted in Danzo's little shadow garden of war. War, always war. Danzo was a man far more dangerous that any would believe.

"You knew how he was, you know of his attempts to usurp your power, and your life, and yet you did nothing. You let it go, like the craven man you are. When I attempted to kill Naruto,and I did, he fought back. No matter how long I ran, no matter how much I denied, he would not let me become what you had allowed Danzo to become. Naruto reached me and yanked me back into reality. He would fight for me, he would kill me, if what he was doing would have been what I needed. He would've fought me to our mutual deaths before we ever reached that point, but he would've. You, Lord Sandaime, did not have the guts to do this for your own self-proclaimed oldest friend. That is why you are not my Hokage."

Silenced reigned in his outburst, only Sasuke's harsh breaths filling the air. Sarutobi looks shaken, his face paler in color than it was just moments before. His mother is still by the door, gaping at him in confusion and unease. It is quite clear that she didn't know what to say at his confession.

"This is what is going to happen," Sasuke breaks the silence. "You're going to send me out of the village on a mission. I'm going to take Orochimaru with me and we are going to leave the village to search out Tsunade. When we bring her back, and we will, you will start to prepare her to take the hat from you. You're tired. You're ready to go back into retirement. Improve your relationship with your son. Evaluate who you've become. But mostly: stay out of my way."

The paleness of Sarutobi's face did not lessen, but his blatant shock had edged away into a sharp boiling rage. Sasuke had stepped over the line, quite clearly and loudly, and the current Hokage was beyond incensed at his audacity.

Sasuke didn't care. He'd had enough. Enough of the Sandaime's fake world. He didn't stand for it when Kaguya and Obito tried to force their reality on him, like hell would he let the Sandaime attempt the same thing. Besides, he should be celebrating Danzo's death, not feel the ever present chill of being too cooped up. The longer Sasuke had to deal with people from his past, the more he grew anxious. He needed to get out of the village and soon, or his calm demeanor and kind words would escape him for everyone, and not just those that had stepped on his every last nerve.

"You-," Sarutobi started before stopping, leaning forward to rest clenched fists against the cold metal table. He breathed in deeply, ragged breaths entering his lungs before a sharp exhale signalled their escape. "You will go to find my wayward student. You will bring her back so she can take my place. You will have two traveling companions: Orochimaru and Hatake Kakashi."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes, taking in the Hokage's shaking figure, and considered his words. Kakashi only knew of Sasuke as Jikan, the strange Uchiha who appeared suddenly. He was the man who showed his sensei's son a soft kindness that not many held for the boy.

"And the truth?"

"Explain at your discretion," Sarutobi bit out, finally standing tall to look Sasuke in the eye. "You have overstepped more than once in this conversation. The only reason I'm not having you arrested is because you have done the village a service. I will not allow such insolence to slide again. Are we clear?"

Sasuke jerks a nod, glare still present, as Sarutobi strolls out of the room, tension building as he shoulders his way out. All that is left is himself and his mother.

"What makes you become so angry?"

Sasuke glances at her, her face lost and her body language one of distress. It is clear she doesn't understand what Sasuke has just told the Sandaime.

"Don't let him become me," Sasuke answers simply before leaving himself.

His mother pulls the Younger Sasuke away from him after that, always keeping a weary eye on the two when she can't extract him without breaking certain niceties. She obviously doesn't share the interrogation she saw with her husband, but it's no real surprise. She was, (maybe now once again) is, a member of the Konoha Gomon/Jinmon Butai. Fugaku was the leader of the Konoha Keimu Butai, and in no way held enough rank to be privy to the fire Sasuke had let loose in that room. Sasuke had let his emotions and frustration get the best of him, but he couldn't bring himself to regret it, not even when his mother now looked at him with a suspicious glint in her eyes.


Kakashi's voice broke Sasuke out of the past, the burning fire in front of him crackling in the air as a soft breeze blows on. Sasuke had pushed away the events of that day, so overwhelmed by everything that had happened, that he didn't get the chance to really think about what his actions might be causing because of his angry outburst. He feels like a child throwing a tantrum, even if most of his words were poisonous truths. Sasuke was out of line, but everything he said was a hard truth the Sandaime should've swallowed years ago. Instead, Sasuke had been forced to feed him all his faults and mistakes in one angry burst. It was a new regret in a long line of mistakes.

"Yes, Hatake-san?"

"You stated that once we made camp that you wanted to explain the mission in more depth than 'find Tsunade.'"

"Ah," Sasuke nodded, seeing Orochimaru emerge out of the trees in his periphery. "Take a seat, Hatake-san. I have a story I think you might be interested in."

Chapter Text

"Time travel? Kakashi asks, voice blank as he stares at Sasuke across the fire.

Sasuke smiles slightly, amused. "Yes, time travel."

Kakashi glances at a smirking Orochimaru, the pale man sharpening a kunai from his own spot by the fire. Kakashi glances back, eyebrow raised.

"I come from a future where we fought a fourth shinobi war. I didn't choose to come back. I was brought back through something the Uchiha call the Jikan Phenomenon."

"Do all people with Sharingans experience this?" Orochimaru asks, golden eyes narrowed in interest.

Sasuke can't help but shutter at the very idea, the image of Danzō suddenly ending up in the past a true nightmare. What would the man have done if he had known all the events up to his death? The idea that he would make certain that all Uchiha were wiped off the earth and that no one would ever know of his machinations wasn't a fun one. "No," Sasuke eventually answers with a grimace, "as far as I know, the only ones to go back were full blooded Uchiha with developed Sharingans. That means that you should be safe too, Hatake-san."

"Call me Kakashi," Kakashi waved his hand, falling back onto his carefree attitude for a moment before he sobers once again, staring at Sasuke intently. "Why am I being informed of this information?"

"You were my sensei as a genin," Sasuke starts, amused by Kakashi's startled look. "You were in charge of team 7: Haruno Sakura, Uzumaki Naruto, and Uchiha Sasuke."

Kakashi flinches slightly at Naruto's name, but he doesn't voice his thoughts besides asking, "The pink haired civilian with Naruto? That means you're Itachi's little brother."

"The very one," Sasuke confirms, thinking of the little girl that Naruto and Sasuke had wrapped up into their small group of friends. It was almost like fate brought them together, especially since Sasuke had nothing to do with introducing the two to the shy little girl. It was certainly good fortune on his part. "We were a pretty volatile team," Sasuke admits with some exasperated affection. "I was arrogant, Naruto was annoying, and Sakura was a fangirl."

Kakashi's eyes visibly darken and Sasuke knows he's remembering his own team that very much fit Sasuke's description. "You cared though," Sasuke makes sure to reassure him, catching his eye. "On our first mission out of the village, you almost gave your life to protect us. We never knew how to work together until we were faced with the reality that our sensei could be killed right in front of us."

"If this was your first mission out of the village, it was surely a C-rank," Orochimaru says, "How exactly did he almost die on such a low ranking mission?"

"We ran into Momochi Zabuza," Sasuke admits with a shrug.

"Kirigakure no Kijin? One of Kirigakure's Seven Swordsmen? Why on earth would he bother with a genin team?" Kakashi asks, bewildered.

Sasuke pauses for a moment before shrugging to himself. He honestly didn't know how much he wanted to tell them, but he supposes he could admit this. "Kirigakure is falling apart as we speak. Momochi will stage a coup at some point to displace the Mizukage that ultimately fails. He becomes a missing nin and he was hired to kill the client we were escorting to Nami no Kuni. The client had lied about the mission rank, taking it from a simple C all the way to an A in the blink of an eye."

"You all survived? You were unhurt?" Kakashi asks, worry dripping in his voice. Sasuke holds back a smile at that, pleased that this Kakashi was totally removed from his emotions. Sasuke knows that Kakashi had balanced on a knife's edge while being in ANBU and it's good to see the man care about something.

"You were down with chakra exhaustion after the first encounter with Zabuza and his apprentice," Sasuke tells him, refusing to call Haku a tool. The boy had mattered to Momochi and Naruto had refused to think of him that way, so Sasuke would honor that. "I was injured into a state that looked like I had died after I jumped in front of a volley of senbon to save Naruto. His seal weakened to the point that the Kyuubi chakra leaked out some and he went after Haku," at Kakashi's disturbed look, Sasuke softened his voice before continuing on, "Naruto spared his life. Haku ended up dying when he jumped in front of your chidori to save Momochi's life. Momochi would end up killing his client when the man showed up and revealed he never planned on paying him. He apparently faced off against a bunch of thugs before sustaining enough injuries to be completely immobile. He died next to Haku, admitting how much he cared for the kid. It was actually rather poetic now that I think about it," Sasuke admitted, losing himself in thought for a moment.

"I'm glad you were all safe," Kakashi says, his response quiet in the night.

"You never wanted us hurt," Sasuke tells him seriously, eye flicking over to meet Orochimaru's interested gaze. He wasn't sure he wanted to admit this to the two before him, especially since Kakashi was far more loyal to the village than either Orochimaru or Sasuke were, but he needed the man to know how truly good he was in the future. "You were also far too forgiving," Sasuke tells him quietly, somber gaze resting on the dancing fire. "I abandoned the village for reasons I felt justified, and even when I never held back against you or anyone else that came after me, you continued to hold back. You talked about killing me to stop me, but you could never quite bring yourself to do it. I looked up to you before I left. Hell, you even taught me your signature technique."

"I taught you how to do a chidori?" Kakashi asked slowly, clearly processing Sasuke's tale.

"I even put a bit of a spin on it. It was only because of you that I realized I had a lightning affinity. You were a good sensei, Kakashi. By the end of everything, we were all part of a slightly dysfunctional family."

Kakashi looks wistful at his words, an edge of disbelief added to the hope on in his eye. Sasuke knows that the man is so very lonely, all those he cared for dead and gone. Naruto is around, sure, but for a multitude of reasons he hasn't allowed himself to get close enough to care for the little boy. He was the last of his clan, the last of his team, and the last of his found family. Sasuke sympathizes with him, knowing how painful it was to feel that alone. Sasuke had been drowning in self pity all on his lonesome. Kakashi had turned numb and had locked himself away while he was an ANBU agent, only really succumbing to the more erratic emotions when he was faced with the newly formed team 7.

Orochimaru, on the other hand, is not lost in the emotions that Sasuke has evoked with his story. Not that Sasuke expected him to care for such an emotional tale. He, being the analytical being he is, has clued into the fact that if Sasuke had left the village like he said he did, then that meant that he went to Orochimaru while a missing nin. If the man had agreed to teach him and never faced consequences for that, then he too must have not been in the village. The snake Sannin wouldn't have to make much of a jump to come to the conclusion that he wasn't a loyal Konohagakure shinobi in Sasuke's future.

"Let's catch some sleep," Sasuke says, cutting off Orochimaru before he could voice any of his questions. He would deal with that particular conversation some other time. "Kakashi, you can take the next watch. Wake me up in three hours for mine." With that said, Sasuke made his way to the single large tent that they had between them, hunching inside and quickly burying himself in the sleeping bag on the right side of the tent. Orochimaru's figure glided in a second later, not moving after he makes his way in. Sasuke doesn't react to the stare he can feel on his back, pointedly ignoring the other man. Eventually Orochimaru lets out a soft hiss, something that Sasuke can't decipher, before the man finally moves away, the second sleeping bag in the tent finally being put to use.

Sasuke closes his eyes and tries to tell himself he's ready for the next day and all the questions that will come with it.

"Who does he think he is?" an enraged voice hisses from the darkness, anger laced throughout.

"Stopping what would've been a massacre," a calmer voice says to the other. "I'm impressed."

"Uchiha Shisui has successfully put all of the Uchiha elders under his Mangekyou's ability. The damn coup has been cut off at the knees! I didn't even know about the damn meddler's existence until it was too damn late."

"It is rather odd," the second voice says, a pondering wonder in his tone. "How could he escape my notice? I've been watching the Uchiha clan as you asked. I've surely seen this Uchiha Jikan several times. Yet, I can't seem to recall what he looks like. Strange."

"Strange," the first voice scoffs, fury still lingering in his tone. "A time traveler that has no place stopping me, that's what he is! To think I never thought of this possibility. How the hell was I supposed to know that a Jikan traveler would appear? There hasn't been one in years! I took it as a sign that my plan worked and the Uchiha were wiped out."

"Maybe it did work. Jikan decided to change things didn't he? Maybe he survived and decided to change the future of his clan?"

"But who the hell would survive such a thing!?" The first voice paused, a chill entering the air. "Uchiha Itachi," the first voice muttered darkly, a disgruntled sneer seen on a scarred face as a tense figure stepped briefly into the light to meet another figure's eyes. "That's the only person that makes any sense. The kid must have gone through with it, and then when presented with a second play through, he opted out like the coward he is. I should've known picking a pacifist would've ended poorly."

"What will you do now, Obito-kun?"

"I'll take the Uchiha clan out if it's the last thing I do," Obito spit, glaring back at the amused Zetsu. "Those bastards and the rest of their damned village will burn. They killed Rin; they don't get to live while she's gone. This entire damned reality doesn't get to exist if she's not in it! I'll find this Uchiha Jikan and I'll take what he knows and use it to better prepare any future plans. I won't let him destroy all that I've worked for."

"Of course," Zetsu said in agreement, expression neutral as Obito turned and marched back into the shadows, hateful grumbles following him down the hall as he disappeared in the darkness that plagued the underground tunnel system.

I won't let this infant destroy my chance of bringing you back, Kaguya-sama, Black Zetsu thought as he slowly sank into the ground, senses reaching out. With frustration, he resigned himself to once again try and find a chakra signature that unfailingly continued to allude him.

Chapter Text

"I can't go any further," Kakashi says as soon as they land on the ground, eyes narrowed as he tries to see something in the distance.

Sasuke nodded in reply, not surprised that Kakashi could sense something off with the area. While their official mission was to track down Tsunade and bring her back to the village, that gave Sasuke a bit of leeway in the journey to her. She roams frequently, cutting back and forth across the country, so any unexpected stops can very easily be explained by, 'there was a rumor she was in the area.' With the ability to keep their journey flexible, Sasuke made good on his promise to Orochimaru and had led his two companions towards Ryūchi Cave. The closer they got to the cave system, the more energized Orochimaru was, like he could physically feel the home of his summons animal. Kakashi on the other hand had grown more and more uncomfortable and Sasuke had seen the teen falter just a minute ago, like something heavy in the air was trying to keep him from going much further. From the way his posture is almost hunched, something just like that was affecting the silver haired man.

"Set up camp," Sasuke instructs him, handing off the bag with their tent in it. "Orochimaru and I will go on ahead. I have no idea how long we'll be, but I'll be back by nightfall even if Orochimaru isn't. Stay vigilant."

Kakashi jerks his head, an uncomfortable look in his eye, before he takes Sasuke's offered bag and heads into the trees, obviously deciding to set up further away from the cave's entrance. Which, fair enough, Sasuke supposes. Turning, Sasuke gives a sharp nod to Orochimaru before they are off once more, the eerie feeling of dozens of eyes watching them slowly making its way down Sasuke's spine.

"You defected from the village," Orochimaru says out of nowhere, startling Sasuke enough that he almost slips when they land on a large branch.

Sasuke glances over, noting that Orochimaru has his eyes forward. He follows his lead, taking his gaze away from the other man to focus on the path in front of them. "Yes."

"Why was I not in the village?" Orochimaru asks mercilessly, not caring to beat around the bush.

Sasuke grimaces as he drops from another branch, landing in a crouch right in front of a massive gaping cave opening. Orochimaru is right behind him, his slitted pupils larger than usual as he takes in the entrance.

With a sigh, Sasuke starts forward, not looking back as he says, "You followed Danzō's orders to experiment on village children. He saw you as disposable and when you were caught red handed, he let you be chased out of the village without ever speaking up about his own culpability."

"I experimented on Konohagakure citizens?" Orochimaru asked, his voice more curious then concerned.

Sasuke scowls, taking a moment to side eye the man. "Yes. You became a monster. You experimented on whoever you wanted. You traumatized hundreds of people; no one was off limits to you. Hell, being out of the village didn't stop you in the least. You mutilated yourself until you were no longer human. You were the only Sannin who couldn't achieve sage mode, simply because of how altered your unnatural body was."

This news finally breaks Orochimaru's indifference, a flash of distress entering his eyes at Sasuke's words. The man was amoral on the best of days, but Sasuke knows him well enough to know the idea that he would unintentionally stunt himself on his search for knowledge must burn something fierce.

"You were very concerned about living forever," Sasuke tells him, glancing around to try and find his bearings. The cave was dark and it took Sasuke a moment of straining his eyes to really see that the cave entrance had let out into a spacious cavern, a single smaller entryway the only option for moving forward. "You decided to get a new body in a search for immortality. You decided to go after an Uchiha, though you failed at getting Itachi, who was your first choice."

"Why didn't I simply go after another Uchiha?" Orochimaru asks, intently listening to Sasuke as they meander forward. "There are plenty of you running around. Surely I could've found someone that was less of a challenge then your older brother."

"Where I come from, there are only three Uchiha left alive. You failed to reach Itachi and so you came and manipulated me into leaving the village. To be fair to you, you didn't have to try very hard to convince me to leave. I wanted power and I wanted out of the village; you were not offering just one, but both. You trained me with the intention of taking my body when the cycle of your old one came to an end. I managed to kill you, though. You eventually helped me in the future without any intentions of possessing my body."

There's obviously a lot to unpack in what Sasuke has just told him and Orochimaru is silent for a few seconds, carefully choosing his next words. Eventually the snake Sannin asks him, "If you killed me, how did I help you?"

"You were... revived by some convoluted means. The circumstances were dire and I saw no choice but to bring you back. You were after my body at first, but you gave it up as a lost cause soon enough," Sasuke answers, not willing to go into further detail. He wasn't exactly proud of the way he acted throughout the entire ordeal, and he's rather not drudge up that particular basket of issues. "Once you were back, you changed. You still had your normal lack of morality, but you decided to follow me. Once I made the decision to fight alongside the village and their allies, you did too."

"Fight against what?" Orochimaru asks absentmindedly, distracted as they turned around a bend in the system and were suddenly greeted with the sight of a low glowing light.

Sasuke hesitated, knowing he could get away with not answering, especially since Orochimaru was picking up his pace, eager to make it to their final destination. With a resigned breath, Sasuke finally replies, "Let's deal with this first. You should still be human enough to be able to reach sage mode. Once you have an idea on how to achieve it, we can continue on our mission and I'll tell both you and Kakashi why exactly I decided to change the future."

Orochimaru just gives him a brief glance in acknowledgement, focused on the new cavern they had found themselves in. Sasuke tensed, surprised to see that the rather lazy White Snake Sage was not seated in her chair. Glancing around nervously, Sasuke didn't bother to stop Orochimaru as the man drew closer to the throne.

"Sasuke-sama," a soft hiss came from his right, shocking Sasuke momentarily as he looked down. A small blue snake slithered closer, it's light green eyes zeroed in on Sasuke.

He stared as the tiny snake looked up at him, recognition hitting him. "Aoda?"

"Hello once more, Sasuke-sama," the now tiny Aoda greeted, the snake slithering up Sasuke's leg. Sasuke lets him, helping him climb his way up Sasuke's body until he finally rested across Sasuke's shoulders.

"Aoda, how do you even know who I am?" Sasuke asks the snake, giving him a bewildered look. Orochimaru has turned around at this point, taking in Aoda with a flicker of interest.

"We remember you, Sasuke-sama," Aoda hisses, blinking slowly at Sasuke's shocked look. "You are a contractor. In order to successfully fulfill our part of the summoning contract, we must be aware of all of them, regardless of what time they have found themselves in."

"That's," Sasuke starts, coughing slightly, "unexpected."

"Orochimaru-san," Aoda addresses the pale man, turning his gaze to him. "The White Snake Sage is currently consulting with others on important matters. Usually you would be forced to go through trials to prove you are worthy of achieving sage mode, but we remember you. We know of your prowess. The White Snake Sage was actually excited to see you were human enough to learn the art of sage mode. There is a scroll on the throne. Take it with you. You will be able to reverse summon yourself to the cave whenever you want in order to train to achieve sage mode. It will take you back to wherever you were summoned from. She advises that you stay human, Orochimaru-san. We always liked you better that way."

Orochimaru looks a little startled at Aoda's declaration, a strange look in his eyes. Before Sasuke has a chance to decipher it, Orochimaru turns away and heads towards the throne once more, intent on getting his hands on the aforementioned scroll.

"Aoda," Sasuke starts slowly, turning his attention back to the tiny snake, "could you possibly do me a favor?"

"Anything, Sasuke-sama," the loyal snake says, hissing in pleasure.

"Could you gather some of the others and be on the lookout of Senju Tsunade? We're trying to get her back to Konohagakure."

"Of course, Sasuke-sama," Aoda agrees, a flick off his tongue the only goodbye he gives as he slithers down to the ground, the soft sound of scales on hard rock fading as he disappears into the shadowy corners of the cavern.

"Let's go," Sasuke tells Orochimaru, watching as the snake Sannin deftly ties a hefty looking scroll to his back. Orochimaru nods in consent and then turn, leaving the softly lit cavern behind, back tracking their movements from moments before.

"When I wasn't human," Orochimaru breaks their silence after several minutes of walking, an odd hesitance in his words, "did I hurt anyone I cared about?"

Sasuke glances to the side, struggling to see any expression on the man's face in the dark. When unable to gauge his reaction, Sasuke looked away, moving forward at a relaxed pace. "I know you fought with Jiraiya and Tsunade," he admits with a shrug. "I don't know how many confrontation you had with the other two, but I know you were willing to kill them if given the opportunity."

The come back to the opening of the cave and Sasuke is able to see a troubled look shadowing over Orochimaru's face. It's a bit of a shock, to see something like guilt rest on his face. "Did they forgive me?" Orochimaru finally asks as they exit. He stops walking, forcing Sasuke to do the same. "Did...did Jiraiya forgive me? After I came to help?"

Sasuke gives him a curious look, wondering over the hesitation over Jiraiya's name. He finds it odd, this hesitation in a younger Orochimaru. Why was he more concerned over Jiraiya's forgiveness than Tsunade's? All three of them were a team at one point, after all. Sasuke blinked, an odd thought entering his head. It wasn't possible, was it? That Orochimaru, a man that literally plagued other people's nightmares, could possibly have feelings for the toad sage? It was a weird idea if Sasuke really thought about it. Sasuke admitted to himself that he had always seen Orochimaru as an asexual being. The man was creepy and could give off bad touch vibes like no other being Sasuke had ever met, but he had never shown any interest in any type of relationship, sexual or romantic. Sasuke knows that Orochimaru doesn't put any stock into gender norms. The man regularly paraded around as female during Sasuke's future. Sasuke hadn't cared much, of course, as he was here to train not discuss Orochimaru's idea on gender politics, but he had been curious enough to ask the Sannin if he should address him with a different pronoun. Orochimaru had been dismissive of his question, uncaring to what pronoun Sasuke addressed him with. He had gotten an odd look in his eyes, something heavy like nostalgia, when telling Sasuke that he was most used to the male gender pronouns. Sasuke now realizes that maybe it was because his teammates had addressed him as such. Regardless, the point was that Sasuke never thought of Orochimaru as a feeling human being. He didn't do feelings, let alone talk about them.

With an uncomfortable pit forming in his stomach, Sasuke briefly looks away. "No," he answer quietly. "I know you spent some time with Tsunade after the war, trying to work things out, but Jiraiya was dead by the time you turned over a new leaf." Sasuke didn't really want to meet the Sannin's eyes, still not used to emotional displays on his part, but he couldn't help himself, his gaze darting over to look at the quiet man. Sasuke saw shock, the man's eyes wider than usual, and devastation, the usual gleam in his eyes replaced with a dull disbelief. He looked frozen, like he was unable to move. Sasuke felt pity swell in his chest and he once more looked away. Orochimaru didn't really deserve his pity, but this younger version hadn't done a lot of the things the older version had. His hands weren't clean by any means, but he was still a different man.

"How?" Orochimaru finally asks, a choked off cough making his voice gravelly. "How did he die?"

"His death ties into what I want to tell you and Kakashi; about why I decided to change things," Sasuke tells him warily, staring out into the forest around them. When he doesn't get a reply, he glances behind him, watching as Orochimaru gathered himself.

Orochimaru jerks his head in a semblance of a nod, clearly still troubled. "Fine then," he breathes heavily, finally walking forward towards Kakashi's steady chakra signature farther in the forest. "Let't get back to the wolf pup so I can hear exactly how I can stop him from dying like an idiot."

Sasuke watched him go, taking a few moments before he too finally headed in the direction of their camp.

Chapter Text

"When I was still a kid," Sasuke starts, his mood somber as he leans his back against a gnarled tree, "the entire Uchiha clan was massacred. The segregation in the village between the Uchiha and everyone else had come to a head and the clan decided that they had had enough; they staged a coup, intending to overthrow the village. There was more going on behind the scenes, of course."

"Danzō," Orochimaru guesses, nodding along because it made sense. Sasuke never did tell him how Danzō's transgressions came to light in the future.

"Yes," Sasuke confirms. "He had a hand in a lot of shit that went down in Konohagakure, as well as other countries. I know a lot, but I doubt even I know all of it. He had a hand in making the Akatsuki who they are today; but I'll get to them later. The point is: I needed Danzō out of the way as soon as possible, which is why I approached Orochimaru," Sasuke informs Kakashi.

"I could never understand why the Hokage never did anything after I told him about Danzō's orders for him to be assassinated," Kakashi muttered in reply, a furrow in his brow.

"Sentiment," Sasuke supplied, shrugging slightly. "Danzō was always the type of person to think he knew best. He gets that attitude from the Nidaime."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow at that, a question in his eyes.

"During the Fourth Shinobi War, one of the Nidaime's forbidden jutsus was used: Edo Tensei. It brings the dead back to life and temporarily seals their souls into a living body. A lot of shinobi were resurrected this way and then directed to fight against the Shinobi Alliance. Orochimaru and I were responsible for bringing back the Hokage, however. I wanted to have a chat with them. When the Nidaime's policy regarding the Uchiha was brought up, he defended himself and stated that the Uchiha fall prey to strong emotions. He's not wrong, per se, but treating emotions like they're the enemy was foolish. That attitude fell to Danzō and his cynicism grew into a disdain for the Uchiha that was unfounded. I don't particularly like the Nidaime, not after facing his prejudices, but I can admit he wouldn't have ever gone as far as Danzō had."

"I used this resurrection jutsu?" Orochimaru asked, curiosity in his gaze.

"Yes," Sasuke nodded. "You're one of the first people after him to have ever used it as far as I know."

"Hm," Orochimaru hummed, not elaborating as he soon got a thoughtful look on his face.

"With Danzō out of the way, an important piece is off the board. Now there's the Akatsuki and their leader to worry about."

"You mentioned them earlier," Kakashi pointed out. "Who are they?"

"The Akatsuki are an organization who believes that the only way to achieve peace is through the possession of all the bijū. That wasn't their purpose in the beginning, but after an incident that, what would you know, involved Danzō, they turned to the more violent path. They're a mercenary group and they're all S-rank shinobi. Their leader is presented as a man named Pein, but he's just a puppet used by Uzumaki Nagato, who holds the Rinnegan."

"Uzumaki?" Kakashi asks.

"The Rinnegan?" Orochimaru voices at the same time, intrigued.

Sasuke twitches his head, letting his hair fall to the side to reveal his Rinnegan. "It very much exists. Nagato uses a technique known as the Six Paths of Pain and he has multiple bodies, all with the same eyes, that allows him to attack at a distance."

"That sounds bad," Kakashi says dryly.

"It is," Sasuke replies, just as deadpan. "I wasn't there for it, but I do know that he managed to flatten Konohagakure to the ground using just his eyes and his Paths."

Kakashi jerks slightly at that, unable to hide his shock at Sasuke's words. Orochimaru looks slightly disgruntled at his words, a small frown gracing his lips.

"He's not the real leader, however," Sasuke tells them. "The real leader is Uchiha Madara."

"Madara? As in a founder of Konohagakure Madara?" Kakashi asks, disbelieving.

"The very same," Sasuke nods. "He didn't die while fighting Hashirama. He and his will, Zetsu, are using the Akatsuki in order to gather the tailed beasts and enact a plan to use a powerful weapon to force the world into peace. Suki no Me Keikaku involved using a technique called the Infinite Tsukuyomi to put the entire world into a genjutsu."

"Eye of the Moon?" Kakashi muttered, astonished. "What kind of future did you come from?"

"I actually came back after we had won," Sasuke tells him with a sigh. "We were in our own form of peace when I found myself back in time. So many people died, though. Too many."

Kakashi looks at him with pity because if anyone would understand, it would be him. Kakashi had lost so much throughout his life, probably more than Sasuke even knows about, so the silver haired man would understand longing to change the past in order to reach a better future with less loved ones gone.

"Do they have any of the bijū?" Orochimaru asks, breaking the commiserating moment between Sasuke and Kakashi.

"I don't think so," Sasuke replies with a thoughtful frown, biting his lip. "I think it's still too early for them to have moved to capturing the jinchūriki? All of the captures I know of didn't happen until after I was a genin on team 7. Except maybe for Han, but I honestly have no way of knowing when he was captured and they got their hands on Kokuō."

"Kokuō?" Orochimaru asks.

"The Gobi," Sasuke elaborates. "All of the bijū have names and Naruto was adamant that we call them by their names and not their tail numbers."

Kakashi gives Sasuke an odd look, though there is some fondness there that Sasuke knows is associated with Naruto's brand of bullheadedness.

"There's still time to stop them from capturing the rest of the bijū," Sasuke tells them, determination in his voice. "I won't let them get even close to forming the Jūbi."

"Ten tails?" Orochimaru asks with a raised eyebrow.

Sasuke simply scowls at the question, a grimace falling on his face as he remembers the sheer size of the beast.

"Right," Kakashi draws out, an exasperated tone in his voice as he addressed Sasuke. "So how do you plan on stopping them?"

"By telling them that they're being hunted," Sasuke states bluntly. "I would've tried talking to Kurama, but he's not particular fond of people, especially Uchiha. The Kyūbi," Sasuke elaborated by Kakashi's questioning look. "So I'm going to try and get into contact with a different bijū."

"Which one? They're all under the control of other villages," Orochimaru pointed out.

"Not all of them," Sasuke shook his head, giving Kakashi a cautious look. The man met his eye, a flash of pain fluttering across his face before it disappeared. Kakashi quite obviously realized who Sasuke was referring to, so he turned his attention back to Orochimaru and explains, "I'm going to try and find the Sanbi, Isobu. He disappeared after the Third Shinobi War and was captured by the Akatsuki while in the wild. I know he was sealed within the Mizukage at one point, but I'm hoping that he hasn't been resealed yet. Naruto told me that he was one of the calmer bijū and I'm hoping that means he'll be willing to listen and then pass the message onto his siblings."

"Fascinating," Orochimaru said, unbothered by Kakashi's disbelieving look. Sasuke just rolls his eyes because it's par for the course that Orochimaru would be interested in the culture of the bijū, as it was knowledge not many people held and the snake Sannin so valued rare knowledge.

"Is that what we're doing then?" Kakashi asks, turning their attention back to the subject. "Trying to find the Sanbi?"

"Eventually," Sasuke nods. "I want to make a stop in Sunagakure and we need to track Tsunade down before we really get looking for Isobu. I might have a way to find him, if possible, but I'm not sure if it will work out. We should focus on the other two things first."

"Is there a chance that we could run into the Akatsuki if we start involving ourselves with the other bijū?" Orochimaru asks.

Sasuke blinks, surprised, because he actually hadn't thought of that. Would they run into anyone from the organization as they traveled? Half of the lineup from Sasuke's time wasn't even a part of the organization at this point. That left a glaring hole in Sasuke's plan, he realized.

"I'm stupid," Sasuke groans, his head falling into his hand. "There were probably members of the Akatsuki who I never met. I already knew people have left or defected from them before. How didn't I realize that there could be members that were dead in my time? Damn it," he cursed. "Orochimaru, is there anyway you could get in touch with Jiraiya and let him know that there could be Akatsuki members that I'm unfamiliar with?"

Orochimaru raises a brow at Sasuke's request but he nods nonetheless. quickly summoning a small snake and requesting they get Sasuke's message to Jiraiya posthaste. The little snake bids them farewell and poofs away, a small smoke trail left in its wake.

"So once we handle whatever business you have in Sunagakure and once we find Tsunade, you plan on having us try and talk sense into a chakra construct?" Kakashi asks Sasuke, giving him an unamused look.

"I've seen it happen," Sasuke responded with a shrug, his thoughts going to Naruto and his ability to anyone into being his friend. Sasuke didn't have Naruto's charisma, nor his happy attitude, which left him at a disadvantage. His two teammates in this time consisted of Hatake 'I'm scared of human emotion' Kakashi and Orochimaru, who found zero uses for any type of social propriety. Sasuke wasn't looking forward to being the emotionally responsible one of the group.

"What business do you have in Sunagakure anyway?" Orochimaru inquires.

"Sunagakure holds the Ichibi, Shukaku. His jinchūriki is Sabaku no Gaara, the Kazekage's son. His seal is abysmal and it allows Shukaku to terrorize him. By the time I met him in the original timeline he was a bloodthirsty monster that killed indiscriminately to satisfy Shukaku's blood lust. Fixing his seal will help with getting him under control. The Sandaime mentioned warning the other Kage about the Akatsuki situation, so I'm hoping us showing up with the offer of fixing Gaara's seal will open up a channel of an alliance. Besides, Naruto wouldn't want Gaara to suffer any more than he had to, especially if there was something someone could do for him."

"You make a lot of decisions based on what Naruto would want," Kakashi observes, watching him intently.

"He's my moral compass," Sasuke confesses, his smile sad. "Naruto was always a bright spot in my life and I see nothing wrong with making decisions based onwhat he would've done in a similar situation."

Kakashi looks nostalgic, like he's remembering someone. Sasuke hopes it's Namikaze that the other man is remembering and not Obito. Obito was a horrible example of trying to follow someone's philosophy only to find out how twisted it could become. Naruto could never become half as bad as Obito.

With a sigh, Sasuke heaves himself up, standing and stretching as his comrades follow him up. "We can stay here for the rest of day, give Orochimaru a chance to start learning the sage techniques. We'll leave at dawn and head for Sunagakure. I'm going to go and try and gather some firewood," Sasuke dismisses himself, subtly drawing his cloak closer to him with his hand as he walked away from the other two. He let out a deep breath as he meandered through the forest, emotions in disarray.

He couldn't keep getting carried away by past events, but just for a moment, he allows himself to get swept up in good memories; Naruto's boisterous voice, Sakura's smiles, and Kakashi's sheepish teasing taking over his mind.