Just a short 3 chapter story that takes place sometime in the future of Retrograde. Hopefully this makes up for missing an update last month on the main story by giving a quick glimpse into the my endgame plan ^_^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The stranger had arrived in the village just over two weeks ago claiming to be one of the Uchiha. No one had believed the man’s claim even when the lone visible black eye of his turned red with the Sharingan what with the Hatake unfortunately possessing one. But when it transformed into the Mangekyō and he bluntly informed them the pain of watching his older brother die in front of him had triggered the change, Fugaku had almost immediately regretted asking.
The man had then proceeded to recite intimate knowledge only an Uchiha could know. About their history, the nature of the clan’s kekkei genkai, and the secret contents of their stone tablet. It was impressive to be sure, but also suspicious because Fugaku knew with certainty that he had never once laid eyes on the man. And as clan head, he took pride in being able to identify every man, woman, and child, noting any accomplishments or talents if they were of any importance.
But Fugaku knew nothing about him except for the clipped and carefully guarded responses he’d given.
The only thing he was certain of was that he did not trust that man.
And the reports his men gave about him hardly gave him any reason to change his mind. Like clockwork, he would travel from the Uchiha compound first thing in the morning to the outskirts of the village to the abandoned storage temple that used to be maintained by the Ogre Bride. They said he would spend hours sitting underneath the falling apart awning sharpening his weapons or meditating before making his way back to the village. Izuna, as he had told them to call him with that irritating sarcastic smirk of his, would then proceed to do the one thing Fugaku had specifically asked him not to. Instead of steering clear of the brat, Izuna actively spent his time seeking out the village’s jinchūriki. The first few times he’d merely observe the boy from afar before leaving and returning to the temple until nightfall.
At first, Fugaku had overlooked it, explaining it away as simple curiosity, what with Izuna’s claims of being away from Konoha on a secret mission given to him by the late Fourth Hokage. But yesterday proved otherwise. The imbecile had approached the boy and took him to eat at the ramen stand. In full view of the entire village at that! It was almost as if the fool didn’t care that he was putting the clan under greater scrutiny associating himself with the brat!
Izuna had just shrugged it off when his men approached and quietly asked him what he was doing.
He’d ignored everyone’s warnings, carrying on like he wasn’t actively making their situation worse.
Now Fugaku had to clean up the mess and make sure Izuna stayed away.
Fugaku broke through the last of the trees and the Uzumaki storage temple came into view. Izuna sat at the top of the broken stairs, sharpening that sword of his on a worn whetstone. He didn’t stop even when his clan head stood in front of him waiting impatiently. Fugaku’s jaw clenches as his lip curls angrily.
“Good morning, Fugaku,” Izuna greeted him without looking up.
The muscle in his jaw tightens at the blatant lack of respect. “Izuna,” he ground out through his teeth. Izuna briefly glanced up at him with another one of those irritating smirks of his but says nothing. He forced himself to calm down. “Izuna,” he tried again, “How are you? Everyone tells me you generally keep to yourself, so I came to see for myself. Adjusting well to the village I hope?”
Izuna held his sword up to inspect the blade. “Everything’s changed since I was last here,” he told him as he returned it to the whetstone. “But it’s not as if I don’t recognize anything.”
“Any particular reason why you come here every day?”
The man answered without looking up. “I need to ask the sealing master some questions,” he said as he gave his sword one last look over before finally returning it to its scabbard. “She used to maintain this place.”
“Then I doubt you’ll be able to speak to her,” Fugaku informed him.
One black eye peered up at him. “And why is that?”
A frown pulled at his mouth at the sudden interest on Izuna’s face. It was the most emotion he’d seen the man express. “There are rumors the Ogre Bride jumped to her death in despair.”
“Hn,” Izuna grunted, but it sounded more like a snort. “I’d still like to take my chances.” He stood and swung the strap of the scabbard over his head until it hung near his lower back. Izuna sent him an appraising look as he replaced his cloak, hiding the small red and white fan carefully stitched into the collar of his shirt underneath. “Was there a reason why you came all the way out here?”
Fugaku stepped closer, not liking the way the younger man appeared to be looking down on him. “Yes, there is. Want to tell me why you disobeyed the one order I gave you?”
“Order?” Izuna flatly repeated. “What order?”
Fugaku’s teeth ground at his flippant tone. “The one where you stay away from the Nine-Tails boy, Izuna.”
“I was under the impression it was a suggestion,” Izuna drawled as he slowly made his way down the stairs.
His eyes flared briefly, but Fugaku reigned it in at the last second. “No,” he growled out. “I told you in no uncertain terms to stay away from the brat because of what happened the night the Nine-Tailed Fox attacked the village. We as a clan must maintain a certain image and associating with him does not help.”
At his words, all emotion is wiped clean from his face and it throws Fugaku off. Izuna’s cold stare pierced through him and the expression is unbelievably familiar. For the briefest of moments, he’s young again standing underneath his father’s stern glare, waiting for him to scold him for disappointing him and the clan. The urge to turn away in shame overtakes him before he forcefully casts it aside.
He was the head of this clan! Not this whelp!
“Was I supposed to stand aside and watch as an innocent child of the village I have sworn to protect be mistreated and neglected before my eyes?” Izuna questioned coldly. The eye not covered by dark hair bled red, tomoe spinning wildly until the unique pinwheel of his Mangekyō remained. “Tell me, Fugaku. As a parent, are you really able to overlook a child being treated that way? He’s the same age as your youngest son!”
Fugaku frowned at him. “Why are you so concerned about the boy?” he asked, not understanding the man. “He means nothing but trouble to us.”
Izuna’s eye glows dangerously and for half a moment Fugaku thinks he’s going to attack him. But his Sharingan suddenly deactivated as his attention shifted to look behind him. “Itachi!” he barked. “I thought I told you to stay away from this place!”
Fugaku would deny it if anyone asked, but he jumped at the sharpness to his voice. He turned and watched as his eldest son stepped out from behind one of the trees. Itachi, unnervingly calm as ever for a child his age, easily met Izuna’s thunderous expression as he came to a stop beside his father. “Good morning, Izuna.”
He leapt down the last few steps to stand in front of them. “This place is dangerous, Itachi. Stay away.” Izuna glared down at the boy. “If you’re looking for someone to train with, ask your mother or help your brother.”
“Mother sent me to find you,” Itachi told him, ignoring the older man’s glare. “She wishes to invite you to dinner tonight with our family.”
Startled, Fugaku stared down at his son in shock.
Mikoto wanted to invite this stranger into their home? The possibility of Izuna truly being an Uchiha may be high, but it still held true that no one knew anything about him beyond what little he decided to tell them. And with such an advanced Sharingan, he was more powerful than any of their fellow clansmen. But maybe that was a good thing. Adding such a strong shinobi to their ranks would be beneficial in the long run, what with the way the village had been treating them recently.
Perhaps attempting to know Izuna better was a good idea after all.
“Yes, why don’t you join us? Share a meal with my family tonight, Izuna,” Fugaku urged.
Izuna ignored him to continue glaring at Itachi. “Why would she want to invite a stranger into her home?” he demanded.
“I told her that I never see you interact with anyone. She said you keep to yourself too much and that it’s not good for people to do that,” the boy calmly explained. “So, she sent me to invite you to dinner with us.”
An exasperated expression spread across what little of Izuna’s face was visible. “If I go, will you stop coming to the storage temple?” Itachi agreed and Izuna gave a sharp nod of his head before saying, “I’ll be there,” and disappearing in a swirl of leaves.
Fugaku stared at the empty space where Izuna had stood and turned to look at his son beside him. But before he could say anything, the boy disappeared as well in a similar fashion. Irritated, Fugaku clicked his tongue and begun to make his way back to the Uchiha district.
Hope you liked it! I'd love to hear what you guys thought ^_^
Up next is Fugaku again!
If Fugaku had to describe his night in one word, it had to be… interesting.
Izuna had promptly arrived at the agreed upon time and politely removed his sword along with his shoes when he stepped through the door. It surprised him. Nearly every shinobi Fugaku knew would never willingly surrender their weapons, no matter how friendly the territory was.
One never knew when they were going to be attacked or needed to be immediately called to arms.
But it made clear Izuna was either certain he wasn’t going to be attacked or he was completely confident in his abilities and training. And if it was the second of the two, it made Fugaku wonder just what exactly the full extent of his strength was.
Then there was the way his sons greeted the man. Sasuke had immediately ran to Izuna to excitedly bombard him with praise over his ability with shuriken and kunai, comparing him to his older brother, while Itachi had politely greeted him as if he were an honored guest.
“The way you threw your shuriken the other day was so cool, Izuna!” Sasuke told him with a wide grin. “Not as cool as when I watched Itachi train with his kunai though. But could you teach me how to do that? I wanna throw my shuriken like that too!”
The corner of Izuna’s mouth lifted and he gently patted Sasuke’s head. “Maybe one day,” he promised, but something in his expression made Fugaku think otherwise.
“Good evening, Izuna,” Itachi greeted with a polite bow of his head. “Thank you for joining us tonight. Mother will be pleased that you decided to come.”
“And now that I’ve kept up my end of the bargain, hopefully you keep yours,” he returned with a pointed smile.
Itachi nodded readily. “I will, Izuna. I promise.”
“Promise?” Sasuke looked up at Itachi. “What promise, big brother?”
“That you and I will no longer visit the temple where we met Izuna, Sasuke,” he told him. “He doesn’t want us to go out there anymore.”
Startled, Fugaku stared down at his children in surprise. This was the first he had heard of both Itachi and Sasuke going to the Ogre Bride’s storage temple. His men had always reported Izuna’s apparent lack of interaction while there. As far as they were able to observe, he spoke to no one while he sat on the rotting stairs sharpening his tools or meditating. It was obvious from Izuna’s previous remark earlier that Itachi had been up there on more than one occasion, but not once had it occurred to Fugaku that Sasuke could have stumbled upon the place as well.
Sasuke pouted grumpily up at Izuna. “But why not? It’s not like we were getting in your way.”
Izuna smiled wryly as he dropped down to one knee to meet his gaze. “Because it’s dangerous at the temple, Sasuke,” he explained, gently ruffling the boy’s hair. “The old sealing master left behind all sorts of jutsu. I don’t want you or Itachi to hurt yourselves if you accidentally found one of her scrolls. Do you understand?”
“I understand,” the boy told him with a serious nod of his head.
“And we wouldn’t want to make your mother cry either,” he added.
Fugaku turned to follow Izuna’s gaze to find Mikoto standing behind them. A soft smile curved at her mouth as she stepped forward to stand behind Sasuke. “That’s right,” she agreed, “You wouldn’t want to make me cry, right, Sasuke-kun?”
Sasuke’s eyes went wide and he vigorously shook his head. “No, never! I won’t go back to the temple again. I promise!”
“Good boy. Now, go with Itachi and wash up. Dinner’s almost ready.” She gently pushed him toward his brother and the three adults silently watched the boys leave. Once they were gone, Mikoto turned to face Izuna. “Thank you for joining my family and I tonight, Izuna-san.”
Izuna bowed his head, more polite than Fugaku had ever seen him before. “Thank you for inviting me, Mikoto-san.”
There’s a long pause and Fugaku looked to his wife questioningly. “Mikoto...?”
She jumped, shaking her head. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to stare,” she apologized with an embarrassed laugh. “It’s just that you look so much like my father did when he was a young man. Almost exactly the same it’s uncanny.”
Fugaku appraised the man for himself, personally seeing no resemblance to Mikoto’s father. The only similarities between the two were the dark hair and eyes common among all Uchiha. But if his wife saw something he didn’t, he wasn’t going to disagree.
“It’s fine,” Izuna assured. “I probably just have one of those faces. I’ve been mistaken for others before.”
Mikoto nodded, gently clasping her hands together. “Why don’t you show our guest to the table, Fugaku? I just have a few more things to attend to before dinner is served.”
Fugaku led Izuna through the house to the dining room where they were soon joined by his sons. Sasuke immediately monopolized all of the man’s attention while Itachi seemed content listening to their conversation, occasionally interjecting with a question or two. This went on for a few minutes until Mikoto finally served the meal and everyone had settled into a somewhat comfortable silence as they ate.
They’re about halfway finished when his wife finally voices the reason why she arranged the dinner.
Mikoto looked to their guest with a curious expression. “So, tell us, Izuna,” she begun, “Are you coping well with returning to the village after such a long absence? I’m sure it must have been a shock to find everything so different.”
Izuna chewed thoughtfully, eyes trained on the bowl of rice in front of him, before nodding. “Yes, it was at first. But I adjusted.”
His short, clipped answer displeases his wife judging by the worried frown on her face. “My sons told me you spend most of your days at the temple, alone. Do you have any family or friends here in the village? Surely there’s someone who would be happy to know of your return.”
Fugaku looked to Izuna in interest. He knew about the deaths of his parents and brother, but when asked of any other family members he had fallen silent, refusing to answer any further. Perhaps in a more comfortable setting, he’d be more willing to speak. Maybe even reveal more about himself than he had during his initial interrogation.
“Not anyone in the village,” he said after a moment with a firm shake of his head.
“Oh,” Mikoto murmured disappointed.
But like him, Itachi immediately picked up on the unspoken implication. “But there is someone. They just aren’t here in the village. Right?”
Izuna silently appraised the chūnin before dipping his head. “Yes. My wife,” he revealed. “She and I were attacked by some bandits while traveling back to Konoha and got separated.”
Mikoto gasped, immediately moving to comfort him, but Fugaku does nothing but stare. Not once had Izuna made any mention of a wife or being attacked by some common road bandits. No matter how hard he’d pressed during his questioning, the man only gave them short, clipped answers before refusing to speak further. And it did nothing to help his case except to cast further suspicion on himself. Izuna was hiding something about himself that he didn’t want others to know, but Fugaku couldn’t figure out what.
“Oh, you poor thing!” Mikoto gasped. “You must be so worried about her.”
Izuna dipped his head. “I am, but I know she can take care of herself.”
“If you were attacked, why didn’t you try to help her?” Sasuke asked. “Couldn’t you have stopped the bandits and left together?”
“We were outnumbered, Sasuke. There were too many for both of us to fight, so we split up,” he patiently explained. “The plan was to meet up here in the village afterward. And besides, Sakura’s a shinobi like me.”
Fugaku leaned forward. “What rank is she? Chūnin? Jōnin?”
“Jōnin, like me. She’s a medic-nin like Tsunade of the legendary Sannin. The best I know.” Izuna pushed aside his empty bowl and placed his chopsticks next to it. “We used to meet at the storage temple when we were teenagers. It’s one of the reasons why I spend time there.”
Fugaku stared at Izuna. The pride in his voice when speaking of his wife was the most genuine he had ever heard the man. Usually every word out of his mouth dripped with sarcasm or some sort of cold condescension that made his teeth grind on edge.
Before he can inquire more about his wife, Sasuke turned to look at Izuna with wide eyes. “What does she think about you only having one eye?” he asked. “Does she think it’s cool or disgusting?”
Itachi and Mikoto quickly scold him, but Izuna just laughs. “You really think I only have one eye?”
The boy nods, grinning. “Yeah! Why else do you cover up half your face like that? Are you hiding a scar or something?”
Fugaku blinked in surprise. It hadn’t occurred to him Izuna was hiding something on his face. He’d just assumed it was some strange fashion choice.
The corner of Izuna’s mouth lifted and Fugaku watched intently as he raised the long hair covering the left side of his face. But only to reveal an identical black eye underneath. Disappointment filled him, but he didn’t let it show as Sasuke pouted moodily at their guest.
Izuna chuckled. “Two perfectly working eyes,” he assured the boy. “Both with Sharingan, too.” And the black turned bright red with three fully developed tomoe in each one. They spun for a second and Izuna let the boy stare for a moment before deactivating their clan’s kekkei genkai. “And no scar, either,” he added, dropping his hair back in place.
“But then why’s your hair like that?” Sasuke demanded. “Doesn’t it get in the way when you use your Sharingan?”
He shook his head. “No, I can see just fine when I use it. And my hair’s like this because I like it that way.”
But judging by the sharp look in his eye, Fugaku thinks otherwise. He was hiding something contrary to what he’d told them. It was hardly a surprise. All Izuna seemed to do was keep secrets and grate on his nerves in some form or another.
Fugaku goes to question him further but doesn’t get the chance. A tremor suddenly shakes the house and he barely has time to react before Izuna’s gone. He followed after him into the streets of the Uchiha district where people littered about searching for the source of the quake. Flashbacks to the Kyūbi incident come to mind and he silently curses Izuna for interacting with the brat.
This was karma for going near him.
He turns the corner to the main street and took in the chaotic scene in front of him. Surrounded by at least a dozen shinobi and police force members was a lone woman facing off against them. He couldn’t see her face, but it was obvious she wasn’t an Uchiha despite the red and white fan between her shoulder blades. None in the clan had pink hair like her, nor did he recognize her as one of them.
He quickly took in the situation, noting the large irregular fissure at her feet and the way they had her surrounded with weapons drawn. Concern washes over him when he notices they all have their Sharingan activated. What was going on here? Was this lone woman strong enough to warrant this many of his clansmen to dispatch her?
“That was a warning,” she said in a low voice. “Do that again and I’ll make this hole even bigger.” To emphasize her point, the woman cracked her knuckles ominously.
There are low murmurings among the men at this and one of them let out a harsh, panicked whisper. “She’s a monster! Why doesn’t genjutsu work on her?!”
Before he can step in, one of the chūnin among them threw a volley of shuriken at her, but each one gets deflected out of the air almost immediately. Fugaku barely has the chance to search for who did it before Izuna’s standing in front of the woman and everyone’s dropping their weapons.
“What are you–?”
The words die in his throat when all of the men surrounding the two suddenly dropped to the ground unconscious. Fugaku activates his Sharingan and reaches for a kunai but he isn’t sure who’s the greater threat anymore.
Was it the outsider who wore his clan’s symbol?
Or was it Izuna?
The decision is made for him when Izuna turns to look directly at him. Instead of having the Mangekyō Sharingan in both eyes like Fugaku had suspected, he possessed something he never imagined ever seeing. His left eye glowed purple with the power of the mythical Rinnegan while the other bled red. And for the first time he experienced the full extent of Izuna’s chakra press against his senses. It threatens to cripple him with its overwhelming strength, but he grits his teeth and bares it.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“That doesn’t matter,” Izuna flatly replied before firmly pinning him under his glare.
Trapped, Fugaku immediately falls under genjutsu and he loses consciousness.
As usual, I'd love to know what you thought! ^_^
The next chapter is the last one and it's Sasuke this time.
Sorry about the super late update! I had more than half of it done when I was hit with some really bad writer's block and couldn't finish it. But I'm good now ^_^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“We need to hurry. Hinata’s waiting for us,” Sakura called out over her shoulder as they sped through the trees. “I don’t know how long she’ll be able to keep it open.”
Sasuke nodded sharply and they picked up the pace. The mask storage temple came into view minutes later and already he could feel the massive amount of chakra coming from inside. And considering how no one ever came up here, somebody was bound to come investigating sooner or later. They needed to leave before that happened.
He followed his wife inside, slipping through the decaying doors and into the main room where the oni masks hung. Hinata knelt on the floor beneath them at the center of an unfamiliar seal glowing bright with chakra. Her hands were locked in the tora position and there was a slight scowl on her face.
Her pale eyes snapped open and relief flooded her tired face. “Sasuke. Thank goodness we found you. Both of you step inside, quickly. I’m almost out of chakra.”
Sakura takes him by the hand and pulled him into the sealing array with her. He quickly scanned the strings of script making up the seal with his Rinnegan, noting the similarities to the one they’d used to go back to when they were teenagers. His knowledge in fūinjutsu was limited but it looked like some sort of modified version. And judging by how much chakra that seal took to activate, it really must have been draining for Hinata to bring herself and Sakura here and maintain it while she searched for him.
“Here,” he says and pressed his hand to her shoulder to transfer some of his chakra.
Immediately some of the tension in her shoulders eased. “Thank you,” she sighed gratefully as she got to her feet. “Stay close to me or you might get left behind.”
Sakura nodded, tightening her grip on his hand. He squeezed back and threaded their fingers together as he pulled her closer to his side. Sasuke looked to Hinata and nodded. Without hesitation, she started rapidly weaving hand seals. The seal at their feet activated and glowed with new strings of characters spreading out and weaving themselves into what was already there. It traveled up to wrap tightly around the three of them and the instinct to fight back itched at Sasuke. Both eyes activated and every minuscule detail in the room assaulted his vision, overwhelming him as Hinata yelled something.
Her words are lost over the ringing in his ears and any thought of asking what she said gets snatched away when a string of sealing formula wrapped around his throat. It chokes him and his vision dims to near blackness as the jutsu takes control.
But then it’s over and they’re released.
His eyes snapped open and two things happened: Hinata collapsed and the scent of blood and sealing ink violently assaulted him. He immediately dropped to his knees and threw up the contents of his stomach until nothing was left.
Warm hands rubbed at his back. “Are you okay?” Sakura asked worriedly.
Sasuke sat until the nausea passed. He’d missed his mother’s cooking, but in hindsight he shouldn’t have eaten so much. When his stomach finally settled, he nodded. “Yeah,” he sighed, scrubbing his mouth with the back of his hand. He glanced at her over his shoulder. “Are you?”
She answered with a blinding smile and wrapped him in a tight hug. “Better now that you’re home,” she sighed, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
“Me, too. Where’s Sarada?”
“She’s with Itachi, safe,” Saskura reassured.
Sasuke nodded and glanced around for the first time. They were in the storage temple still, but it was day now and everything wasn’t falling apart or in disrepair anymore. Good. A low groan drew his attention and he turned in time to see Naruto’s eyes lose the cross-like pupils of Sage Mode. “Is she alright?”
Naruto nodded, brushing hair out of Hinata’s face. “She’ll be okay. Just some mild chakra exhaustion.” He gathered her up in his arms and tucked her into the prepared futon underneath the oni masks.
“How did you know where I was?”
Sakura shifted to wrap her arms around his waist and he hugged her to his chest. “Your hawk came back with Lord Sixth’s reply untouched and we knew something was wrong,” she told him in a low voice. “Itachi immediately left to track you down. It took a couple weeks, but he found your chakra lingering in a valley on the eastern coast.”
“There was a sealing formula carved into the rock face,” Naruto said, tossing a scroll to him.
Sasuke caught it and it only took a quick glance to recognize the swirl pattern at the center as Uzumaki in origin. But he does a double take and frowns. “I looked right at it and it forced my Rinnegan to activate. Nothing happened as far as I was able to tell, but I headed straight back to the village anyway.” And that’s when he noticed Kakashi wasn’t in power and there were Uchiha other than himself and Itachi walking around. Many, many other Uchiha.
“That was one of the seals Aunt Fumiyo was investigating for my dad before I was born,” Naruto explained. “She deemed it harmless because it needed a massive amount of potent chakra to activate. So, she just left it alone.”
“But then we came along,” Sasuke concluded.
“Yup. And once we realized you’d gotten sent to the past, we made a seal.” He pointed at the large complicated seal painted on the floor beneath them. “Auntie mixed your blood into the ink for an anchor. Hinata and I activated it together so she and Sakura could go get you while I stayed behind in Sage Mode locked onto your chakra signature holding the other half of the seal open.”
Sasuke scanned the seal again, taking in how big it was, and frowned. “Hn.” He was going to have to give blood at the hospital again. “And where’s Fumiyo?”
“She left with a demolition team to destroy the seal once she finished drawing it for us,” Sakura murmured into his chest.
He nodded. That sounded like Fumiyo. She probably went to oversee the demolition if not to just put up her own explosive tags to destroy the seal herself. Time travel jutsu was something of a sore spot for her after all.
Naruto leaned forward. “So…where’d you end up?” he asked, quickly glancing at the seal underneath them, “Do you know?”
Sakura stiffened and he tightened his arms around her, resting his chin on her head. “Sometime before my parents died. We were about five or six.” When we were still innocent and oblivious to everything...
Naruto only nodded, fussing at the blanket covering Hinata and stroking at her already smooth hair before holding her hand again. He didn’t say anything and Sasuke was grateful. Spending two weeks there was more than enough of a reminder. He didn’t want to think about it anymore than he needed to.
“I’m going to go see Kakashi. He’ll want to know I’m back.” Sasuke pressed a kiss to his wife’s forehead before making his way toward the village.
Familiar faces greet him left and right as he made his way to Hokage Tower. He wasn’t particularly friendly with any of them, but it was a relief to see them nonetheless. And it was even better to see his sensei sat behind the Hokage’s desk instead of skulking around the village as a brooding teenager.
When he finished speaking to him, it was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Sasuke opened the door to the home he shared with Sakura and the sound of laughter immediately greeted him. He stepped inside and removed his shoes and sword before slowly making his way towards the living room.
A smile curved at his mouth. “She cause you any trouble while I was away?”
Itachi looked up and grinned. “Welcome home, little brother.” He scooped up Sarada with him as he stood. “Look, Sarada-chan! Papa’s home!”
His daughter’s eyes lit up once she noticed him and she grabbed for him with her chubby little hands. Sasuke’s grin widened as he took her into his arms. He gently nuzzled his nose into her cheek, making her laugh and squeal. Sarada pushed him away to poke at his cheeks and nose. He pulled her hand away and pressed a kiss to the back of it before hugging her again. “Papa missed you and Mama, Sarada,” he murmured into her hair.
“And we missed you.”
He turned to find Sakura standing in the doorway behind them. Her smile’s wide and full of relief and it makes his eyes sting. Sasuke bit into his lip and hid his face in Sarada’s hair to hide the tears. Slim arms wrapped around his waist before a soft kiss was pressed against his cheek.
A warm hand squeezed his shoulder. “Please don’t scare us like that again,” Itachi murmured.
Sasuke could only nod, unable to speak past the lump in his throat.
“Sakura. Is something burning?”
Sakura jerked away with a yelp at Itachi’s question and ran back toward the kitchen. “No, no, no! Please don’t be ruined!”
Dinner was slightly burnt but Sasuke didn’t mind. Hearing Sakura and Itachi’s happy chatter and his daughter’s excited laughter was more than enough for him. It had been some time since he’d been home and being here with his family again reminded him of how much he’d missed something as simple as this.
Afterwards Itachi pokes him on the forehead before he goes, leaving Sasuke in shock at the door until a small weight is pressed into his arms. He looked down to find Sarada fast asleep against his chest and tightened his grip on her. His gaze shifted to look at his wife beside him, noting the poorly disguised excitement in her eyes.
“I talked to Kakashi earlier,” he began, watching her mouth twitch into a frown.
Sakura bit at her lip. “About what?”
Sasuke looked down at their daughter in his arms and his expression softened. “I asked him to take me off active duty for a while.”
Her eyes widened, shocked. “But what about your mission?” she demanded. “I thought—”
“Itachi’s more than capable of taking care of it without me right now.” Sasuke pressed a kiss to Sarada’s soft hair as his thoughts turned to his unwanted trip to the past and to his father. “I want to watch our daughter grow up. I want to help her throw her first shuriken and teach her our clan’s Great Fireball Technique.”
Sakura searched his face for a long moment before nodding. A soft smile curved at her mouth as she wrapped her arms around his waist. “Okay,” she whispered with a small nod. “Okay,” she repeated, resting her head on his other shoulder.
Sasuke closed his eyes and hugged his wife and daughter close. He’d missed his parents and being surrounded by their clansmen, but he’d missed them more. Being even further away than usual had made him keenly aware of it.
Time with his family was precious and his accidental trip to the past reminded him of that.
The corners of his mouth turned up. “I’m home now, Sakura,” he murmured.
Hope you guys enjoyed it! Love to hear what you thought ^_^