If Sasuke was given the choice of which time he fell into, he would’ve chosen any time but the Warring States Period. If he was dropped into the past when he was a baby, he would do his best to prevent the Nine Tails’ attack on the village, stopping Obito from manipulating the bijuu. If he fell into his childhood, he would immediately start working on preventing the Uchiha massacre. Getting dropped during his preteen years wouldn’t have been fun, but Sasuke knows himself well enough to think that he could’ve explained the truth to himself with a bare minimum of destruction following. Dealing with his teenage self would’ve been torture, trying to get through his avenger mindset nearly impossible, but he would’ve fought until he could drag his younger self in front of Naruto. Any of these options would’ve been wonderful; all included the ability to stop an event that would shape Sasuke’s life.
That’s not to say, Sasuke thinks detachedly, that the Warring States Period doesn’t affect him. He didn’t live through it, however. He was never supposed to live through it. And yet, he snorts, here he finds himself.
Madara, before he falls to the Uchiha clan curse, is kind. It disturbs Sasuke the first time he’s faced with it. That gaze full of concern for his fellow Uchiha, and it pulls at something in him. This Madara, unburdened by his brother’s death and the influence of Black Zetsu, holds the regard of his clan in high esteem. They love him, this strong fighter who dreams big and has the strength to back it up. This Madara, who sees Sasuke and his obvious Uchiha features, and welcomes him with open arms.
Izuna isn’t as open, his gaze suspicious as they take in their similar features, but he takes to ignoring Sasuke very quickly. His attitude leans towards being one of the majority. None are outright hostile to him, they don’t attack or belittle him, but the general attitude of ‘if I ignore it, it doesn’t exist’ hurts just as much. When Sasuke claims to be half Uchiha, Izuna and the rest of the Clan scowl at him, dismissing him as lower than them because of his ‘half’ Uchiha status. Madara scowls too, but he does it because the only reason an Uchiha would grow up out of the clan was if a male Uchiha had relations with a woman that wasn’t an Uchiha. The likelihood that that relation was consensual is disturbingly suspect during the Warring States Period. Madara is angry and disappointed with his clan at the idea that they would do something so vile. It twists Sasuke’s image of the clan head and he doesn’t particularly like the feeling.
Another feeling he doesn’t like is that the other option besides ignoring him seems to be coddling him. These Uchiha, who face death every day with only the beginnings of medic ninjutsu at their hands, see Sasuke’s single arm and assume. To be alive and disabled means he was a shinobi at some point; it also means he wasn’t strong enough. It’s utter bullshit, that line of thinking, but Sasuke has to grudgingly admit that he once thought the same. He thought being handicapped was a weakness, that no one who wasn’t whole could ever be a shinobi. Rock Lee and his chakra coils certainly stand out as proof against that way of thinking, but the clan doesn’t have Rock Lee and his single-minded determination. They only have Sasuke, who has an empty sleeve and a make-shift eyepatch covering his left eye.
There are some pros to being pitied. Because of his perceived threat level, he is watched far less than a shinobi of his level should be. They don’t take into account that he could be hiding his chakra levels, or that he might have some ace up his sleeves. The idea of using jutsu without hand signs is an impossibility to them, while it is now Sasuke’s reality. If he had a better standing in the clan, his lack of guard would definitely be beneficial. Except, he doesn’t have a better standing. He holds no voice in the clan proceedings. He is simply the half Uchiha bastard that ‘Madara-sama’ graciously allowed in the clan. No one would ever think to take his word into consideration. Even Madara, who seems to be the most willing to listen, would be quick to dismiss Sasuke’s warnings.
It’s why, when the elders finally annoy Madara into acting, that Sasuke gets an idea. The Uchiha elders during Sasuke’s childhood were always old and nagging, and their predecessors are the same. They insist that Madara must marry, must have a spouse, for the good of the clan. Izuna is his heir, so they ‘compromise’ and tell Madara that they will even accept a male consort instead of a wife. It’s almost funny to see Madara steaming mad at the corner he’s found himself boxed in to, but the words that come out of Madara’s mouth spark Sasuke into action.
“I will take a spouse on one condition,” Madara starts, his temper cooling some as he stares down the elders. “They must defeat me in a mock battle.”
“Impossible,” one of the elders immediately says, scoffing at Madara’s terms. “No one in the clan is as strong as you.”
Madara looks vaguely smug at the fact that everyone knows he’s the strongest, but he shrugs, like he doesn’t know this to be true. “Fine; anyone who can get me to a tie.”
The elders aren’t as quick to dismiss this suggestion, looking amongst themselves in contemplation. The chance that anyone could actually do it is slim, but even Sasuke knows that Madara is only willing to negotiate so much before he rejects their demands for a spouse outright. He doesn’t know if this happened in his original timeline, but Madara obviously never met his match that day because he remained unmarried.
This time, Sasuke thinks with a gleam in his eye, it will be different. He holds no voice as he is, perceived as weak and useless, so he must take any opportunity he has to make one for himself. The quickest way to do that stood in front of him, eyebrows furrowed in concern.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Jikan-san?” Madara asks, his voice actually colored with genuine hesitation.
Sasuke mourns that this version of Madara hadn’t stayed around longer, wondering what Konoha would’ve been like under his guiding hands. His mourning only makes his determination grow; Sasuke needs this Madara to stick around, so he’ll do what he has to do to keep him this way.
“I’m sure, Madara-sama,” Sasuke replies, bowing slightly to his clan leader. The others around them are giving off various reactions, some actually showing concern while others snicker at his situation. Sasuke can see Izuna over Madara’s shoulder, his sneer clear as day as he dismisses Sasuke’s abilities. The elders sit off to the side, already having witnessed several matches beforehand. Sasuke would be the last challenger before the elders would have to concede defeat and let Madara remain a bachelor for as long as he wanted. They were angry already, not knowing that Sasuke would be an ally for their cause soon enough.
Madara nods, respecting his decision enough to not ask Sasuke again if he’s sure. He takes a fighting stance, meets Sasuke’s eye, and then springs forward. He’s fast, he’s Madara Uchiha, so even when he’s not trying, he’s better than most Jounin level shinobi. It’s a good thing that so is Sasuke.
Sasuke side steps the strike, activating his Sharingan, and puts a direct jab harshly into Madara’s stomach. The clan head lets out a gag before he’s being thrown back, hitting the ground once before he regains his balance and lands on his feet, skidding slightly. He immediately looks up at Sasuke, surprise in his eyes. He had approached Sasuke on his weak side and had obviously expected the match to be over before it even began. Sasuke readies his position and firms his stance. He wouldn’t get another free shot.
Madara watches him for another moment, his gaze now far more assessing, before he gives Sasuke the acknowledgement no one else received when he activates his own Sharingan. It gives Sasuke a slight thrill, that even if Madara doesn’t know how strong Sasuke really is, he senses some type of inner strength within him. Madara is twice as fast as he was before and Sasuke has to turn quickly to block the kick coming at his face. It’s not Madara at his fastest, Sasuke can personally attest to this, but that doesn’t mean his speed isn’t still formidable. They exchange a few more blows, all of them blocked in one way or another, before Madara finally pulls away, hand signs flashing as he collects his breath and lets out a mildly powerful Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu. Sasuke, without blinking an eye, collects his chakra and meets fire with fire.
There’s a blast of heat as the two meet and force each other to dissipate, but theirs is no returning attack from Madara. Instead, the clan head is staring at him, his eyes wide.
“You performed that without using hand signs,” Madara accuses, curiosity bleeding into his voice.
“Yes,” Sasuke replies simply, raising his arm and shooting a Chidori Eisō at the stunned man. Madara collects his wits about him, dodging the attack, and Sasuke lets a nugget of amusement flash across his mind as Izuna also jumps out of the way of the blast. The spectators to their fight are suddenly backing up, determined to watch, but wary now that Sasuke has released a technique with a larger ranger than previously shown in their fight.
Madara lands smoothly, springing forward and striking Sasuke. He can’t quite dodge it in time, so he wraps a half formed Chidori Nagashi around him, taking the hit but also taking the opportunity to briefly paralyze Madara’s right arm. The blow hurts, but Sasuke is more than aware that Madara can hit harder. This is merely a mock battle, however, a simple spar to gage the abilities of the prospective Uchiha spouses. It’s more of a showcase than anything, the opportunity to show off the ability to fight alongside their adored leader. With that knowledge in mind, Sasuke activates his Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan. He can’t show off Amaterasu, the flames dangerous even under his careful control, but he can show off in another way.
“Susanoo!” he shouts, feeling the familiar chakra wrap itself around him. It’s exhilarating, watching the shocked awe flash across Madara’s face. In his future, Madara had been insane and was consistent in his god complex. To see that gleam of interest in his eyes was truly a new experience.
Madara grins at him, his teeth bared in excitement, as he draws his chakra together and responds in kind, “Susanoo.”
They clash, swords meeting each other, and Sasuke lets his lips twitch upwards to meet Madara’s bared grin. This is the most active match Madara has had all day and Sasuke isn’t even done. Sasuke twirls to dodge and comes back twice as hard, exerting pressure onto their clashing blades. The blue and purple chakra constructs meet, their blazing glory mingling together, blue and purple forming a lighter shade of violet. It was spectacular. Sasuke pulled back, prepared to make another blow, but Madara raises his hand, his Susanoo fading.
Sasuke immediately drops his own, straitening up under Madara’s watchful gaze. His eyes are dark now that his Sharingan is deactivated, their depths holding both curiosity and some other unknown emotion. He finally drops his raised hand and turns to the elders.
“I concede to a tie,” Madara tells them, his voice lilting as he takes a side glance at Sasuke.
Sasuke lets out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding, a wave of relief running through him. For Madara to concede, for him to admit to an even tie, was more than Sasuke could’ve hoped for. This is the chance he had been waiting for.
The elders are equally shocked, but their delight at Madara going along with their plans is obvious on their faces. “Jikan-san,” one of the two women say, gesturing him forward. Sasuke walks calmly over to them, settling a few feet away from Madara. “You have shown the ability to stand your ground against the clan head. Following proper courtship rules, you have been accepted as a potential spouse. If you choose to move forward, the next stage of the process can begin.”
Sasuke doesn’t need to think about it, immediately bowing to Madara and then to the elders. “I accept.”
Madara is smug next to him, eyeing him up throughout the entire speech and his acceptance. He has Madara’s attention now, and if everything continues to move along, he should hold it long enough to change things for the better.
“The next stage is twofold,” an elder to Sasuke’s left explains. “You must now prove yourself to be sufficiently fit to stand at the head of the clan, alongside Madara-sama, as well as fight against an enemy of the Uchiha in battle.”
Both were combat based, Sasuke noticed, though one was more abstract than the other. Usually suites of courtship were proposed with gifts. If the person in question accepted the gift, the first stage would be completed. It was curious that Madara’s first and second stages all dealt with physical strength and the need to prove one’s worth.
“I am open to your inspection,” Sasuke states plainly, letting his muscles relax under the scrutinizing eyes of the elder council before him. Sasuke might only have one arm, which would usually be held against him, but because of the unique first stage, he had already proved that his disability was not counterproductive to his progress as an Uchiha.
The woman who had spoken earlier gestures another woman forward. Sasuke recognizes her as the clan med nin, Fuyumi-san. Fuyumi approached him, immediately assessing his condition. He had a couple scrapes and bruises from his brief spar with Madara, but both of them had been holding back tremendously, and Sasuke didn’t even feel that stiff from them. Fuyumi doesn’t ask as she rolls up his shirt sleeve, but she does meet his visible eye briefly, making sure her hands are as gentle as she can make them. Sasuke allows it, knows it’s necessary, and he is intrigued by the honest surprise and curiosity that alights Fuyumi’s dark eyes when she sees his stump. She does pause this time, her hand raised to touch the bottom where the scarring is. He doesn’t hesitate to nod at her, giving her his permission.
She touches the bottom, lightly tracing the faded scars that lay at the end. She is utterly fascinated by them and it suddenly occurs to Sasuke that his wound was healed by deft hands from the future. His scars and perfectly healed amputation look like miracles to the less developed med nin in front of him. He doesn’t explain himself, just lets her hands poke gently at the healed tissue. She eventually pulls away, folding his long sleeve back down.
Fuyuki steps to the side, brushing his hair back behind his ear as she deftly pulls the eyepatch from where it was covering his left eye. Sasuke could stop her, she gives a brief pause as an opportunity, but this will only be to his advantage. His eye immediately gets a reaction out of the elders in front of him.
“What on earth—? Is that… it couldn’t possibly be….”
“You have a Rinnegan,” Madara states in wonder, breaking the muttered shock that the elders were producing. “I thought it only legend.”
“It just needs specific circumstances,” Sasuke confesses, turning to let Madara get a better look. His Rinnegan currently lacked the tomoe it usually wears thanks to the use of chakra during their fight earlier. Sasuke is grateful for it.
“Such as?” Madara asks, his eyebrow raising in question.
“Both the blood of the Uchiha and the Senju,” Sasuke puts bluntly. It’s not a lie, the Rinnegan does need both of those things to exist, but Sasuke didn’t acquire his Rinnegan the normal way. No one would understand if he started spouting off about the Sage, however, so he goes the bastard route. He doesn’t much care if they assume that he is the bastard child of a male Uchiha and a female Senju.
There’s definitely some stirring from the elders at his implied heritage, but Madara himself isn’t upset. His gaze is calculating as he takes Sasuke in, reevaluating him once more. Sasuke knows about Madara’s dream of peace, and Sasuke having ties to both the Uchiha and the Senju would help him achieve an end to the constant state of war.
“Ah,” an elder sniffed in displeasure, giving Sasuke a narrowed-eyed glare. “Then we know exactly who you will meet in combat.”
Sasuke almost couldn’t believe his luck, watching the fighting around him. They didn’t have to wait a day before several Uchiha and Senju teams came into contact, a small skirmish turning into an all-out battle. They had gained word back at their current compound and had quickly mobilized to get to the fighting. Izuna had been the one to fetch him, sneer still present, as he let Sasuke know his directive for the battle: Sasuke needed to show his worth. It was very vague in its wording, but Sasuke wasn’t bothered by it. The wording meant he didn’t have to kill anyone; he’d rather not be responsible for Konoha never forming due to a death on the Senju side.
As soon as they arrived, Sasuke watched Madara leap towards Hashirama, kunai meeting each other with sparks. Sasuke turned from them, seeing no reason to be concerned. Madara had always held his own against Hashirama and had supposedly fought him to a standstill every time until their fated fight at the Valley of the End.
Izuna found his own opponent immediately as well, launching himself at Tobirama with a small war cry. Sasuke kept an eye on the two, knowing Izuna’s fate. There was no guarantee that this would be the dreaded fight where Izuna lost, but Sasuke wasn’t willing to risk it. The grumpy Uchiha might not like him, but his death prolonged the fighting that could’ve ended years sooner. Sasuke was forced to drag his eyes away from their fight, however, when a Senju kunoichi took a swipe at his head. He ducked, lashing out with his foot and catching her in the back. She went flying from him and was then replaced by another unknown Senju. Sasuke made quick work of his numerous opponents, always sending them away from him with only some bruising and non-fatal cuts.
“Take this!” a voice barked, slamming into his vulnerable side.
Sasuke cursed, taking the hit and using the momentum to throw himself out of the Senju’s path. He had gotten distracted enough that the kunoichi from earlier had gotten a sharp blow in. He readied himself, facing off against her scowling image, when across the field Sasuke heard Madara shout, “Izuna!”
Sasuke didn’t hesitate, turning away from his opponent as he caught Tobirama’s white hair in his periphery. There was only a couple of seconds to spare, Izuna’s face twitching into shock, before Sasuke activates his Rinnegan and uses Amenotejikara. There’s steam around them from where a fire and water jutsu met, but Sasuke’s eyes are superior in many ways. He appears in front of Izuna just as Tobirama’s seal fly’s past. He only has a split second to flair chakra to his Mangekyou Sharingan before Tobirama strikes. The stab hurts, sending waves of pain through his spine, but he counters, punching Tobirama in the face with a clenched fist.
Sasuke stumbles slightly, grimacing at the pain, before he quickly breaks the chakra flow to his visible eye. Izanagi breaks, Sasuke’s stab wound fading out with the injured illusion. He does like to use the technique, memories of Danzo and his mutilated arm always appearing in his mind, but he wouldn’t have been able to dodge Tobirama’s strike if he hadn’t activated it.
The steam clears from the semi-translucent state and now Sasuke can see the everyone has stopped their fighting, watching on as Sasuke faces Tobirama down. For the Uchiha, this is more than anyone thought he would do, standing up for his betrothed’s brother. For the Senju, they are only now realizing just how dangerous this one-armed combatant really is.
Tobirama doesn’t waste a moment, his hands flashing to form a Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu. Sasuke is slightly impressed to see the man use the jutsu without any nearby water source, but it’s also something he would expect from the man who would become the Nidaime. Sasuke twitches his fingers, lightning chakra gathering at the tip of his fingers. He’s used this trick once already but aiming Chidori Eisō isn’t as impressive as destroying a water dragon, which is exactly what he does. Tobirama’s jutsu bubbles at the heat of his strike before exploding, water raining down briefly. It gives him a little thrill to see the narrow gaze Tobirama is giving him. He’s an unknown in the battle and clearly the Senju feels uncomfortable not knowing all the pieces on the board.
“Izuna!” Madara shouts once more, appearing next to them. Izuna is hunched over slightly, Sasuke notices, hand held against his side. Sasuke wrinkles his nose, cursing himself for not being just a half a second faster. Tobirama’s blade must’ve hit Izuna’s side when it pierced through Sasuke. Better than a fatal blow, but still not good enough.
“Jikan-san,” Madara utters is relief, turning to him and giving him a grateful nod. Sasuke nods back, keeping one eye on the observing Tobirama. Hashirama flashes to them next, standing slightly closer to their formed trio. Sasuke keeps himself in between the sets of brothers, relaxed for the most part. The fighting was over. The small battle was on hold as the two clan heads stared each other down, each assessing their situation.
“I think it may be time,” Hashirama starts, a slow smile forming on his once serious face, “for us to start peace talks.”
Madara doesn’t immediately reply, looking down at the hunched Izuna and then up at Sasuke. Sasuke holds his gaze, inclining his head towards Madara. Madara huffs, a relived glint entering his eyes as he finally nods towards his friend. “Yes, I think it is.”
“I thought my dream was lost,” Madara says, his voice soft as it drifts towards Sasuke.
Sasuke glances over his shoulder, his dark kimono stiff against his skin. The wedding ceremony earlier had gone down without a hitch, several clans in attendance to witness the union between the Uchiha clan head and his spouse-to-be. The wedding had been old fashioned to Sasuke, who remembers how the ceremony will change in the future, but he’s not disappointed. It was a beautiful ceremony.
Madara sidles up beside him, far more comfortable in their matching restrictive kimonos than Sasuke is. He’s all grace as he looks out of the window, the sun bleeding orange and pink as it sets behind a mountain in the distance.
“I thought peace an impossibility,” Madara continues, his eyes wandering over to Sasuke.
Sasuke feels himself holding his breath, meeting Madara’s soft gaze. It was difficult, in the beginning, to meet Madara’s eyes and not see what future he would’ve had without Sasuke’s interference. It took many months and many stilted conversations between them before Sasuke slowly started to change his perception of the man before him. By the time Konoha was mostly established and the date for their wedding grew closer, Sasuke could comfortably say that he was looking forward to their nuptials. It wasn’t quite love, not yet, but it was devotion that Sasuke felt burn under his skin. This Madara deserved the adoring gazes of their clan.
“Then you came along,” Madara confesses, reaching forward to grasp Sasuke’s single hand between Madara’s warm palms. “You allowed for a long-forgotten dream to become reality.”
Sasuke doesn’t dissuade him of the notion that his dream would’ve been lost. It’s not true, Madara and Hashirama’s dream of a village would’ve eventually come to fruition, but it would’ve resulted in Madara’s loss of sanity and life. Could it really be called dream fulfillment if one of the people who dreamed it was gone?
Sasuke doesn’t say anything, has always been one for actions and not words. Instead, he leans down slightly, meeting Madara in a soft graze of the lips. It’s acknowledgement and acceptance in one kiss. They pull apart afterwards, standing side by side as they watch the sun finish its descent in the distance. Sasuke doesn’t even twitch when Madara’s hands find their way into his top, fingers grazing over pale flesh. He simply closes his eyes and lets the moon watch down on his victory.