It starts like this: I died. It wasn't an accident, either. In fact, it was rather traumatic. I'd go through more traumatic things in my life—my next life—but at the time I hadn't known that. All I'd known was that I was a normal, in relative terms at least, college student walking home a little drunk from a party. All very stereotypical. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised with what happened.
Thing was, I was overconfident. I'd never officially trained in self-defense or anything, but I've always been observant. I did notice when I started being followed. The streetlights were dim and the street I was on, which was a bit of a back road way to campus but faster for it, was deserted. So I noticed the sound of someone else coming up behind me. Stupidly, I didn't think anything of it.
So sue me, I was a bit drunk. Hell, I was twenty-one and in my last semester of college. I was allowed to have fun.
I don't know, maybe I'm just making excuses. It had all seemed to simple back then. Finish my degree, get a job, maybe settle down with a family one day. Certainly not the life I live now.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
I was drunk and the heels I was wearing were uncomfortable. I was still half paying attention to the footsteps behind me, but I wasn't worrying about them as I stopped to adjust my pointy shoes. The party I'd come from had been huge, probably the person was a fellow student making their way back to the dorms.
Needless to say, I was caught off guard when the person grabbed me. I spun, panicked and still drunk and I remember thinking I should jerk away, should shout, should do something.
A heavy hand clamped over my mouth. It prevented me from screaming, but it did kick-start my muddled mind. I jabbed up with my knee, hoping for the stereotypical groin shot. Except the person holding me, the man holding me, seemed to have expected it. He grabbed me leg and pulled. I went tumbling to the ground and, with his hand still clamped over my mouth and jaw, had no hope of holding my head up.
My head slammed against the sidewalk with an audible crack and searing pain. My eyes watered. I made a noise, muffled in the hand. The world flashed white and black. Everything muddled. I couldn't think.
The world was hazy for a little while. The man dragged me, or carried me, a little ways. Then we were at the nearby post office, dark and closed at that time of night, and my attacker seemed to know the best place to take me. There was a dark enclave just before where the trucks were parked and he threw me against the wall.
I began to regain my senses then and started trying to fight back. I honestly had no chance. This man, with his short blond hair and grey eyes and stubble, had me pinned before I could do more than slap at the hand still held over my mouth.
He was efficient. Looking back now, I could almost admire that. I could tell from his eyes that he enjoyed how powerless I was. It wasn't about the fight to him. It wasn't about my screams of terror—for he wasn't even letting me do that.
Whenever I had thought about someone attacking me, I had always imagined me fighting them off, digging my heels into their groin or jabbing my fingers into their eyes. I imagined stepping back and scolding them into submission. I imagined the police coming in and telling me I'd done a good job. I imagined my mom crying at what could have happened but being relieved, so relieved, that she'd raised such a strong daughter. I imagined my dad pulling me close, telling me how proud he was of my bravery.
Look, I'm not going to describe it to you. It's hard enough just to say this. I was raped. I was raped by a man years older than me at the side of the post office a couple minutes away from my college campus. I was raped and then, when he'd spent himself and all I could do shiver and cry, he put his huge hands on either side of my face and broke my neck.
I died like that.
I bet you're worried now. My death was traumatic, but I did say I had more traumatic things happen. Maybe I can reassure you from some of those fears. I haven't ever been raped again. This body, the one I'm in now, has never gone through that.
Sometimes I feel like I'm cheating. I never really did the whole thing rape victims usually do, from what I've been told. I never dealt with the police or anyone saying I shouldn't have been wearing a skimpy dress. I never got questioned if I had perhaps led my rapist along. Even more, I never scrubbed myself clean for hours because I felt unclean. I never fell fully into hating myself for what happened. The new body probably helped. Everything else too. I was… distracted from those memories, most of the time.
Anyway, traumatic stuff has happened. I still say the night I died is the worst night I've ever lived. Thing is, that's kind of cheating too, because being raped and killed wasn't the only thing that happened...
When I opened my eyes, I was shocked. I was pretty sure I had just been killed. I remembered feeling my neck pop, though nothing after that.
I sat up and looked around. Everything was red. Why red? I remember asking. There'd been no blood that I can remember. Then I realized it wasn't that I was lying in a puddle of blood or anything. The sky was red.
I lay back down, staring up at the red sky. A couple of theories went through my head. Red was one of the colors of Hell, though I'd never really believed there was a hell. Since no demons popped up to take me to a torture room, I hoped the afterlife was less cliché then that.
Actually, I had always hoped that the afterlife was like in Bleach. Soul Society would be a cool place to live.
Apparently not, I mused as I stared at that cloudy red sky.
No one was around—actually nothing was around. Just a blackened land and a red sky. I had nothing to do but contemplate my death.
At the time, I didn't know how long I sat there thinking about it. Now I know it was probably just under three days. For seventy hours I blamed myself for leaving the party drunk and alone. I blamed my friends for letting me go and for dragging me to the party in the first place. I blamed my family for not forcing me through actually self-defense training. Then I stopped blaming them and started blaming my murderer.
Once I'd run out of blame, until all that was left was exhaustion and wary acceptance, I moved onto grief. Grief that I'd never see my family and friends again, and grief that they would be grieving me. I didn't want my mom to know I'd been raped. Bad enough that I'd been killed. I didn't want my dad to attempt to drown himself in a beer bottle like he'd done when his twin had died. I didn't want my friends to blame themselves, because honestly it really wasn't there fault. It was mine and it was my murderer's. That's what I decided.
About seventy hours, I think now, after I'd woken up under the red sky I decided that I'd spent enough time moping. I've always been pragmatic and efficient. My friends used to say that I went through the world at twice the speed they did. I was good at calculating costs and weighing them and deciding on a course of action. It wasn't always the best course of action, but I used to pride myself on how quickly I'd get things done because I never spent much time deliberating over it.
So I spent seventy hours going through the five stages of grief, or something close to it, and then I got up and started walking. It wasn't that I'd suddenly accepted everything that had happened. Truthfully, I'd gone with the less mentally healthy approach of avoiding thinking about it anymore. I needed a distraction, a goal, something to do. I wanted to see what the afterlife was like.
About an hour later, or thereabouts, I heard crying. I was thankful to find some evidence I wasn't just alone in this empty place, so I picked up the pace.
I began to see buildings. They were distinctly Japanese in style. I slowed down. The sound of crying got stronger.
I was in a housing complex, I realized. I walked down an aisle in the middle of the buildings. There was a huge one just ahead. The crying was coming from inside. I walked up the three wooden steps and opened the screen door.
A kid sat on the ground facing away from me. He had his head buried in his knees. His crying was so loud it reverberated throughout the empty house in bounding echoes.
This was just what I'd been looking for: a chance to put someone else's problems before my own. It didn't hurt that I've always loved kids, even if I've never really known exactly what to do with them.
I approached the boy and knelt down next to him. "Hey," I said. "Want to talk about it?"
The boy looked up, obviously startled. He jumped away from me. I noticed he was shaking, full body shivers not unlike what I'd done earlier that night—and I did consider it the same night because it wasn't like there were actually days in this strange world I was in.
The boy was oddly familiar to me. He had black hair and eyes and pale skin. He wore a black shirt with a high collar and white shorts. A memory tickled in the back of my mind.
Then the boy spoke. His words sounded harsh, though I couldn't understand them. He was speaking Japanese, I realized after a couple sentences.
Now, my knowledge of Japanese in my past life had been limited to very simple sentences picked up from repeated watching of anime. All I knew to say was, "Nani?" which unfortunately only sparked more rapid-fire words from him that went right over my head.
It was then I realized why I had recognized the boy. He looked exactly like what I would imagine Sasuke to—if Sasuke were a real person and not a cartoon.
Shit, I thought then. Cloudy red sky. Person who looked like Sasuke. Japanese.
"It's Tsukuyomi," I said aloud. "You're… are you eight? Holy shit, Sasuke, was your family just killed? Did Itachi just use Tsukuyomi on you?"
Sasuke obviously had no idea what I was saying, but he must have recognized his own name and Itachi's for he went silent.
My heart went out to him. Sasuke had never been my favorite character, but I didn't hate him. And the person he was now, this little boy, was not the person who'd nearly killed Naruto and abandoned Konoha for Orochimaru.
I held out my arms. Sasuke stared at me, but maybe I looked non-threatening or maybe he was just really in need of comfort, because he approached me and slowly hugged me back.
I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't touched. I think about that sometimes.
After all, that night—on March 17th in both worlds—I was both murdered and became a murderer.
The minute Sasuke and I touched, I felt a tugging sensation in my gut. I ignored it at first, intent on giving and receiving the comfort of the hug. But it grew stronger. Very strong. And then painful.
Vaguely, I heard Sasuke whimper. "It's okay," I said, though I wasn't sure it was. "I'll take care of you."
The pain and tugging morphed until it felt like I was on one of those spinning rollercoasters. The red was all around me. I started to feel dizzy and nauseous. I fell forward. The red pressed in all around me. I closed my eyes.
I was probably out for a while.
Sometime later, I opened my eyes and looked up to see that the ceiling was white. I felt relief. No more Tsukuyomi. I hoped Sasuke was okay. I knew he wasn't, not really, but Naruto would be there for him in the end, I was sure. Well, I wasn't actually sure. I'd never actually finished the anime before dying, but I knew Naruto as a character. It'd all work out for Sasuke, he'd make sure.
And apparently, I was onto my next step of the afterlife. I struggled to sit up. My body felt strange. Frowning, I lifted my arms. They were too skinny, and too pale. I had freckles, or at least I should.
The door opened. I looked up. A nurse came in—or at least I thought that's what she was. She was wearing a really strange outfit though: a white dress and hat instead of the usual mint green jumpsuit most nurses wore.
"You're awake!" she said, smiling. "Hold still, let me check you over."
She wasn't speaking English. The words coming out of her mouth were definitely Japanese. And yet… I understood them.
"What?" I asked. But it didn't come out of my mouth in English either.
"Just sit still, Sasuke-san," the nurse said.
"What?" I asked again, scooting away from her.
"Sasuke," she said soothingly, but I was not ready to be soothed.
I looked at my arms again. They were small, like a child's, and pale. Too pale. I reached up and tugged at my hair. I had bangs. I'd never had bangs in my life. I pulled them down so I could see the color. Black.
"No," I said. Vaguely I was aware of the nurse speaking to me but I wasn't paying attention. "No! That's not right."
Another couple people rushed into the room. I stared at them, not actually seeing anything. "Where is he?" I asked, fully panicked now. "Why isn't he here? Why am I here?"
An ANBU appeared next to my bed. "Itachi escaped, Sasuke," he said in a low voice. "I'm sorry."
That wasn't what I was asking. I didn't care about Itachi. I knew what he was doing. I cared about Sasuke. Why were they all calling me him? I wasn't. I was a girl. I was a college student. I was twenty-one years old and I'd just been raped by a man with short blond hair and grey eyes and I wasn't Sasuke.
"No," I kept saying over and over. "This isn't right. This can't be right. Please no."
They knocked me out soon after.
When I woke up again, I spent a while just staring at the ceiling. I didn't have to look down to know I wasn't in my body. I could feel it. My chest was lighter, for one. My legs didn't stretch as far down the bed as they used to.
There was something else too. A kind of energy. If I concentrated, I could feel it running through my body. Chakra, I supposed.
The nurse came in. I guess she wasn't a nurse. Did the Naruto world have nurses? I couldn't remember. Medic, then.
"How are you feeling, Sasuke-san?" she asked softly—probably wary of another freak out.
"Can I have a mirror?" I asked. I had to be sure. I couldn't accept it until I saw.
She seemed startled by the request, but nodded and left. A couple minutes later, she was back with a small mirror. I grabbed it with too-small, too-pale hands. I lifted it up.
Eight-year-old Uchiha Sasuke's face stared back at me. I began to cry, just staring at this body I'd somehow taken over. There was no denying it now. I'd killed Sasuke.
I don't know how. I certainly hadn't meant to.
The nurse took the mirror away from me after a while. I let her. I didn't need it anymore. I knew what I was, what I'd done. I'd killed a little boy with a big future.
I want to say I got up and moved on. I want to say I thought of the positives, all the things I could change. I didn't. I suppose I was in shock. You can't really blame me, can you?
I was in the hospital for a couple weeks. I probably could have left sooner, but I think the medics had me on suicide watch. I didn't actually contemplate it. I was depressed, but I wasn't about to kill the body to go along with the fact that I'd killed the mind and soul of Sasuke.
An ANBU took me back to the Uchiha compound after the hospital finally released me. I hadn't talked since requesting the mirror. The ANBU took me to the main house, which I vaguely remember from my memories of watching Naruto. I stood at the doorway for a moment, staring at the place I knew Sasuke's parents had been killed. I didn't mourn them. I'd never known them.
I did mourn my parents though. Maybe that was enough.
"ANBU-san," I said. My voice sounded strange to my ears. I wasn't used to the fact that I seemed to naturally think and speak in Japanese.
The ANBU knelt down beside me. I looked at their mask. It looked at bit like a dog. I looked at the left eye. It was covered. This was Kakashi, I was almost sure of it. For some reason, that made me nervous.
I didn't have Sasuke's memories. I had no idea where his room was. I didn't know the things he'd known, except apparently how to speak and read Japanese. I was pretty sure Sasuke had been top of his class at the Academy before the massacre. Kakashi would probably notice something was off.
I took a deep breath. No panicking. I had to think rationally. One step at a time. "Do I have to stay here?" I asked.
Kakashi tilted his head just slightly. "The Hokage is willing to get you an apartment, if you wished." His tone made it clear no one would blame me if I didn't want to stay in the compound where all the Uchihas except me and Itachi, and Madara and Obito but I wasn't supposed to know that, had been murdered.
Did I want an apartment? I looked around. Sasuke hadn't. I don't actually know if he'd stayed in the room he'd grown up in, but I was positive he'd stayed in the Uchiha compound. In honor of him, I felt I couldn't leave. I wasn't an Uchiha, but since I'd killed him I had to have some pride in them in his place.
I could do that, I figured. The Uchiha had annoyed me, but they'd once been a really great clan and Itachi was one of the most admirable ninja in the show, if more than a bit messed up mentally.
No, I told myself. Not a show. It was my life now. Itachi was Sasuke's older brother and he'd done a hell of a lot to protect him—however much I disagreed with the way he went about it. And I was Sasuke now. I had to start thinking of myself as Sasuke, even if it made me uncomfortable. I'd killed Sasuke, so I had to revive the Uchiha clan, a better clan, in his place.
"No," I said, more firmly. "But do I have to live here?" I gestured to the main house. Not only had I not wanted to live in the place Sasuke – my parent's had been killed, but I also hadn't known my way around the house. That would've looked really suspicious to Kakashi and any other ANBU that were probably watching us from a distance.
"It is your compound now," Kakashi said, as gently as ANBU could get. "You may do what you wish."
"Is there a small house no one lived in before?" I hadn't known if Sasuke would know that, but I had to take that gamble. Kakashi paused and looked to the left. Another ANBU appeared.
"There are a few, Sasuke-san," the new ANBU, with some kind of bird mask, said. He listed off a couple of locations, using other houses as landmarks. I had no idea where anything was, but I tried to look like I did.
"Can you take me to them?" I said.
The ANBU nodded. I followed behind, noticing as Kakashi disappeared. While we walked, I wondered how the ANBU had known which were empty. I knew there weren't any Uchihas left in Konoha. Oh, except the ANBU had probably had to go through all the houses to clean up the bodies.
Mystery solved, I focused on the compound. It was set up in a couple rows. Some houses were bigger than others, but they all had the same style. The Uchiha clan symbol, the red and white fan, was painted on the side of several of the houses. The first house the ANBU took me to was a couple houses down from the main one where Sasuke–where my family had lived. It was cramped between two larger houses, which I didn't really like, but the inside was clean.
The next one was at the end of one of the rows and next to what looked like a personal training ground. It was a bit bigger than the first, though not by much. The third one was the next row over, again cramped between two other houses. It had a personal backyard, though, complete with a koi pond.
"Those are all, Sasuke-san," the ANBU said. "Every other house was occupied."
I thought about it for a moment, before heading back to the house at the back of the compound. The training area next to it was nothing more than an area of packed dirt with some training dummies and targets, but it was better than nothing. Still, I could use the area regardless of what house I chose. But I liked that house best, because it was farthest from the others.
I walked inside. Like the other two houses we'd looked at, there wasn't any furniture. The front door opened to an empty room. A small kitchen was to the left. A closet was to the right and next to it, a bathroom. Up the stairs, there were two bedrooms and another bathroom. It was a nice place. Certainly nicer than my dorm room had been.
I shook my head and turned to the ANBU. "This one."
The ANBU nodded. "Would you like to buy new furniture, Sasuke-san?"
"We can just take some from the other houses," I said, as practical as I've always been. I walked through the house, pointing at various places. "A kitchen table. Um, maybe a couple other tables in the living room?" I shrugged. "Just basics," I muttered. "I'll get other stuff later."
"Would you like us to furnish your new room with the things from your old one?"
"Yes," I said, starting to feel overwhelmed as I realized the enormity of living in this empty house on my own. It was a good thing I'd learned how to cook, because if I was actually eight years old I'd have no idea. Wait, had Sasuke known that? Would it look weird if I cooked for myself?
I took a calming breath and walked upstairs. One thing at a time. I looked between to the two bedrooms. "Can I make that one into a… library? Study?" I frowned. "With scrolls and books from the other houses?" I had no idea if that was a good thing to do, but the ANBU simply nodded.
I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I was glad this world had real toilets. If I were in a truly feudal Japan setting, I'd probably have had to go to the bathroom outside or something. It had already been weird getting used to the different genitals.
I continued to sit on the toilet, just sitting there, until I felt a little calmer. When I walked back into the hallway, I saw that a couple bookshelves had already been moved into the room I'd pointed as the study. Even as I watched, and ANBU appeared and made a couple hand seals, releasing a desk from a scroll. Efficient moving. I felt bad making ANBU do it for me, but they were faster about it than I would have been by myself, or with a genin team.
I walked into my bedroom. My bed was in the corner, along with a chest. I opened it and saw that it was filled with my clothes. Another smaller chest had some practice shuriken and kunai.
I headed downstairs. The ANBU had put a table in the corner of the living room. A fan, looking just like the Uchiha symbol, was mounted on it. I stepped closer to it. The fan was large and the edge glinted like steel. The red, I realized, was made of some sort of stained metal. The white was cloth, though it seemed reinforced. I could tell this fan held some significance. Perhaps it had been ceremonial.
I left it alone and turned around. There was a very short table in the middle of the living room along with some cushions. Japanese style, right. Luckily, the kitchen table was regular sized, for me anyway, with four chairs set around it. An ANBU, this one with a cat mask, was stocking the kitchen with pots and dishware.
In the other corner of the living room, they'd set up a glass case with a formal tea set. I walked to the closet and opened it, revealing a couple coats. Closing the closet again, I walked back into the center of the living room and waited.
It seemed less than fifteen minutes, before Kakashi knelt in front of me again. "If you need anything else, you are free to call out. An ANBU will be watching over you."
I had hoped not, though it made sense. No one knew if Itachi would come back to finish me off. I knew he wouldn't, of course, but I couldn't exactly say that.
"When do I need to go back to the Academy?" I asked softly. I wasn't ready, I really wasn't ready.
Something of that must have shown on my face, because Kakashi rested a hand on my shoulder. I flinched back before I could help it. The last man who'd touched me had… well… he'd hurt me. All the medics at the hospital had been female, something I appreciated in hindsight even if they probably hadn't done that on purpose.
Kakashi slowly drew his hand back, as if trying not to spook me. "Whenever you're ready. There's no rush."
I almost asked when summer break was, but I managed to stop myself. I had no idea if the Academy here had a summer or winter break. There was no real reason for it. As far as I remember from the anime, the Rookie Nine had been taught by Iruka until they graduated.
Well, if there were, I'd hear about it in advance. I didn't have to worry about that now. I wasn't going back to the Academy until I was sure I knew enough to continue being top of the class. I wouldn't be able to suddenly explain away my lack of knowledge. Maybe I could get away with fighting worse because of the trauma, but there wasn't any long-term amnesia involved with Tsukuyomi that I remembered.
I also didn't think I was ready to face the younger versions of the people I'd thought were just characters before this. Seeing Kakashi, even in ANBU gear, was bad enough.
"Thank you," I said, and then realized it was the first time I'd said that to the ANBU despite how much they'd been helping. Well, Sasuke in canon had always been a rude bastard.
Kakashi nodded and flashed away. I looked at the kitchen, contemplating making myself some food. My stomach rolled at the thought and I turned away.
Up the stairs and to my room, I walked with heavy steps and an even heavier mind. I collapsed on my bed. It was more of a futon, really, with dark blue sheets, but it was comfortable. I was asleep in minutes.
I dreamt of Itachi. He was smiling as he explained to me about how to properly hold a kunai. "I'll be even better than you, aniki!" I exclaimed even as my kunai went way off target.
"I'm sure you will, otōto," he replied.
I woke gasping for breath. "Aniki," I murmured into my pillow. Tears leaked from the corner of my eyes. I'd never had a brother in my other life, but I wasn't that person anymore. I couldn't be that person. That person was weak. She spent her time watching and reading anime and partying. She'd been taken down with little more than a push by a man with short blond hair and grey eyes.
I am Uchiha Sasuke and that day I vowed to be strong. Strong enough to protect myself, so that I would never be hurt like that again. Strong enough to make Itachi, the brother I never had, proud. Strong enough to survive in this world of ninjas—a world I was far from prepared for.
I am Uchiha Sasuke. And this is my story.