Former Self II
Sasuke and Naruto stared at Komuji with wide eyes and mouths agape. Sasuke quickly closed his and attempted to regain his cool although the news shook him to his core. Kirigakure was in ruins? How could that be? Had Yashin done it?
"W-was there any sign of the Mizukage?" Naruto asked.
"Or Suigetsu?" Sasuke added. Komuji shook his head.
"No, sir," he replied. Sasuke looked away and glared out of the window. Was Suigetsu truly gone? He had wished for some time that that talkative shinobi would disappear but now that it seemed that he had done so at the hands of Yashin, Sasuke felt angered. All of this was starting to confirm one thing for Sasuke...
"Was there anyone in the village at all?" Naruto asked. This time, the Hatake boy nodded.
"Yes, sir, there was. My team and I found a girl. She's with them now across the hall. My medic is treating her," Komuji said, his voice carrying the same nonchalant tone of his father.
"We need to speak to her immediately," the Hokage said. Komuji dipped his head.
"I'll bring her in at once," he said. "But, she hasn't spoken a word. She may be in shock."
"We'll see," Naruto said. With that, Komuji left the room. In the brief moments before Kakashi's son returned, Sasuke's mind shifted through the fog that was his thoughts. Things were clear and unclear at the same time. Suigetsu and the Mei Terumi, the Mizukage, were nowhere to be found and Kiri was in ruins? The Uchiha tried to maintain some level of optimism, but found that his nature prevented him from doing such a thing.
Komuji returned with five other ANBU operatives in tow. The masked and cloaked figures parted, revealing a dirty brown-haired girl standing in their midst. The child stared blankly around the room. Sasuke watched as the girl's eyes finally fell on him. They were an odd color, deep purple, but instantly familiar to the Uchiha man. The way her sharpened canine teeth protruded out of her mouth sent a nostalgic chill down Sasuke's spine.
"Are you Sasuke?" the girl asked. Her voice was light and soft, almost like Hinata's was. Slowly, the Uchiha nodded.
"Yes," he replied.
"My daddy told me a lot about you," the little girl said.
"Suigetsu?" the Uchiha asked. The young girl barely nodded, shutting her eyes tight. A trickle of tears crawled down her cheek and Sasuke could hear the girl whimper. Sasuke wanted to step forward and comfort her, but Naruto beat him to it. His hand went to her shoulder and the little girl looked up at him. The Hokage's gaze seemed to calm the girl.
"Hey," Naruto said. "What's your name?" he asked. The little girl sniffled.
"Setsuka," she replied.
"Ok, Setsuka," the Hokage said. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki and I'm the Hokage." Setsuka nodded.
"I know. Daddy talked about you, too." the girl replied. Naruto smiled.
"Nice things, I hope." Setsuka shrugged.
"Mostly," she answered. Sasuke could see why Suigetsu would say "mostly" nice things about Naruto. The two of them had differing philosophies and though Naruto had attempted to bring Suigetsu into Konoha, the swordsman's heart lied in the Kiri. The separation had been amiable from what Sasuke could remember, though that entire period of time was somewhat of a blur to Sasuke. Karin was to blame for that.
"Alright, Setsuka," Naruto said. "I really need your help with something. The masked men say that you were hidden in the ruins of Kiri."
"I was," Setsuka replied, twiddling her fingers.
"Did you see how the village came to ruins?" Naruto asked, kneeling down to face the girl. Setsuka nodded. Naruto continued. "Can you please tell us what happened?" Setsuka sniffled and shook her head. She started to cry.
"It was so scary! He destroyed everything!" she said, her purple eyes lifted to meet Naruto's. Sasuke looked down at the girl. He had expected the daughter of Suigetsu to be much more talkative. The Uchiha glanced over to the Hokage who kept his patient gaze on Setsuka.
"Tell me what happened," he said. "If we're going to get the person responsible for destroying your home, I need your help. Can you do that for me?" Naruto asked. Setsuka wiped her eyes and sniffled as she looked at Naruto. There was a quiet spark of determination in her eyes.
"Ok, I will," she said. Naruto dismissed the ANBU Black Ops with a hand wave and the shadow walkers disappeared in a blur. Sasuke leaned against Naruto's bookcase and folded his arms. In a few brief moments, a clone of Naruto opened the door and Shikamaru entered, wiping his eyes. Sasuke narrowed his. The Hokage must've sent for him with one of his clones after the ANBU team had returned.
"Awfully late to be calling a meeting," Shikamaru sighed in his normal, lazy tone. When he saw Setsuka, he glanced at Naruto.
"Sorry to wake you, but this young lady may have very valuable information on the man we're chasing. She was just about to speak," Naruto said. Shikamaru nodded and stood in silence. Sasuke's eyes met Setsuka's as the girl looked around the room. She looked nervous, but the determination hadn't left.
"I was sleeping when things started to explode outside. Daddy was out there so I ran to look for him. Everyone was screaming and running the other way. I got through the crowds to where I thought the explosion came from…that's when I saw him." Setsuka's eyes grew wide. "The one who caused it all." Sasuke narrowed his eyes.
"Yashin…" he said softly. Setsuka looked up at him and blinked.
"Is that his real name?" she asked. Sasuke frowned.
"What do you mean?" Setsuka looked away.
"He said his name was something else," she said, pausing as she tried to remember. "I think he said, 'Akugo'." Sasuke looked over to Naruto, who looked back. A sudden sigh from Shikamaru alerted both of them. The jonin shook his head.
"Dammit," he said, looking back at Naruto. "This is bad…" Naruto raised an eyebrow.
"What is?" he asked. Shikamaru shook his head.
"I'll be right back. I left my Bingo Book in my house," he said, disappearing in a puff of smoke. Sasuke frowned and looked at Naruto, who shrugged. Setsuka blinked and looked between the two of them.
"What's going on? Can I keep talking?" she asked. Naruto smiled.
"I'm sorry, Setsuka. Keep going, please," he said. Setsuka breathed in and nodded.
"Ok…after I saw him, that's when I saw the Mizukage. The old lady was fighting Akugo and looked like she was winning but then, Akugo stabbed her with his sword," she said.
"And that killed her?" Naruto asked. Sasuke silently shook his head. He knew personally how hard it was to actually kill a Kage. Madara had nearly killed all five, but hadn't been taking the battle seriously. He doubted some figure had power comparable to his own, especially one that fought from the shadows and sent assassins to do his work.
"No," Setsuka said, echoing Sasuke's shaking head. "The stab didn't kill her. But his technique did. Akugo started to suck out her chakra and life force with his sword." Sasuke narrowed his eyes and Naruto rubbed his chin.
"Sucked out her chakra?" he asked.
"Could it have been Samehada?" Sasuke asked. The sharkskin sword was notorious for its ability to consume chakra and feed it to its wielder, but…
"No," Naruto said. "Octopops has had that sword for the last seventeen years. He refused to hand it over to Suigetsu. Remember, they had a big fight over it." Sasuke nodded. He did remember it quite well. It had been ten years ago and though Sasuke hadn't been in attendance, he had heard that Suigetsu was soundly bested by the former Hachibi jinchūriki.
"Then what could it be?" Sasuke asked, almost to himself. He then looked at Setsuka. "What did Y-Akugo's sword look like?" he asked.
"Um…it looked like a regular katana. It had a black blade, though. I think it turned green when it took the Mizukage's life," the girl said. Sasuke nodded. The information that this girl was presenting was interesting. Yashin possessed a chakra and life force siphoning sword, a specially made one by the sound of it. It seemed he may be a chakra absorption type shinobi.
"Ok, what else happened?" Sasuke asked. Setsuka gulped.
"Daddy went to fight him. He defended himself against Akugo for a while. I tried looking for Auntie Karin and cousin Sosei but they had left before it all happened. It was like they knew it was coming. I think Daddy did too, but the Mizukage didn't believe him," Setsuka sobbed. She wiped her eyes. "I tried to get out of the way but some kind of Doton shook the earth and I got trapped in a building. The dust choked me and I passed out."
"And my ANBU team found you?" Naruto asked. Setsuka shook her head.
"No, I found them." Setsuka pointed to her nose. "I tracked their chakra with my nose. Karin taught me how." Naruto smirked.
"That was clever of you. I'm very glad that you did, you were very helpful," Naruto said. "I want you to stay here under my protection until I know things are safe. Is that ok with you?" Setsuka slowly nodded and sighed.
"Do…you think my Daddy will come find me? Or is he…?" Setsuka asked. Naruto looked to be struggling to weave the words together to tell Setsuka the truth, so Sasuke stepped in.
"If Suigetsu didn't pull you out of the rubble himself, I think it's safe to assume that Akugo may have killed him the same way he did the Mizukage," the Uchiha said. "Also, Akugo managed to get inside our village and kill Karin as well." Setsuka's face fell into her hands and Sasuke felt an odd feeling in his stomach. Was his verbal punch too severe?
"But," Naruto said, giving Sasuke an eyeful of his displeasure, "Sosei is very much alive and living with Sasuke." Setsuka lifted her head and smiled through her tears.
"Really? Can I see him?" she asked. Sasuke shook his head.
"Not now. It's too late," Sasuke said. "Maybe later in the day." Setsuka nodded. Naruto sighed.
"Well, for tonight and maybe further on, you'll stay with me in the Hokage mansion. I have a daughter myself and I'm sure she wouldn't mind having a younger sister around," Naruto said. Setsuka grinned.
"Ok," she said excitedly. Naruto's grin widened and he rubbed his head. Sasuke shook his, his bangs drifting from side to side. As powerful as Naruto was as Hokage, he knew that there was one place where the power often shifted. His home. Hinata was soft-spoken but her confidence had grown in volumes over the past few years. Sasuke knew that Naruto needed to speak to his wife before he invited children into their home.
A puff of smoke appeared in the middle of the room and as it dissipated, Shikamaru stood in the middle with his Bingo Book. He looked towards Setsuka and walked toward her.
"Hey, kid, can you look at this picture?" he asked. Setsuka nodded and as Shikamaru showed her the image, Setsuka gasped.
"That's him! The mask…the cloak! That's Akugo!" she cried. Sasuke wrinkled his brow and walked forward. Shikamaru tossed the book towards him and Sasuke stared intently at the picture. A black cloak and an oni mask.
"This is…" Sasuke said.
"Our guy," Shikamaru replied. "He's been on the wanted list for some years now. But while he's been gunning for you, he's been operating under another name. It's a classic criminal strategy."
"So who the hell is he?" Sasuke asked.
"Wait," Naruto said as he created a clone of himself. The clone escorted Setsuka outside of the room and when the two of them had gone, Naruto waved his hand. Shikamaru began to speak.
"About four years ago, there was a report in the Land of Iron that a famous samurai by the name of Kojiro Ganryū was killed and his sword had been stolen by a cloaked figure. That sword was called 'Jinsei-gui', roughly translated as 'Life Eater'. It was a black bladed katana that glowed green and blue depending on what energy it sucked from its target," Shikamaru said.
"Thats what Setsuka described," Naruto said. Shikamaru nodded.
"That's good, so we do have positive identification." Sasuke narrowed his eyes.
"So why choose the name 'Yashin' or 'Akugo'? Which one is the real name?" Sasuke asked.
"I'm guessing 'Yashin' is his true identity. The crimes he committed were minor and quite old. I'd suspect they may have juvenile activities. He may have rode with a gang of bandits. Their operations crossed into the Land of Water but aren't directly connected to Kirigakure. However, the fact that he stayed around that area early on in his career suggests that he must hail from the Land of Water," Shikamaru said.
"So he has some kind of pull within the village, is that what you're saying?" Naruto asked. Shikamaru nodded, while Sasuke continued to absorb all the information that was being spouted out.
"Exactly. How else would he be able to get Kiri shinobi to work for him and attack you?" Shikamaru rubbed his goatee. "Also, they must fear his power far more than they did the Mizukage's to accept missions from him, especially one as dangerous as attempting to kill Sasuke or his family."
Something clicked in Sasuke's head. Something that had been irritating his brain, scratching and biting away at his conscience. "What if they weren't planning on killing us?" the Uchiha asked. Naruto glanced over to him and Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.
"What do you mean? I think an assassin infiltrating your home is a clear indication that—" Shikamaru said. Sasuke shot the Hokage and the Nara clan head a glance to silence them.
"I know that assassins weren't sent to my home. I just don't think they were sent to kill anyone. If anything, I think they may have just been sent to draw me out," the Uchiha said, pausing to fold his arms. "It isn't a secret to anyone in this world that I can be…coldblooded and ruthless when it comes to those I love. I think they intended to steal Hikari and hold her to draw me out of the village so Yashin could fight me himself."
"He doesn't want to tangle with the combined strength of Konoha, especially not us," Naruto said with a confident grin.
"He might," Sasuke said. He closed his eyes as he measured his next few words. "It seems that this entire time, he's only been targeting people that are close to me or were." The Uchiha opened his eyes. "Suigetsu, Karin, Sosei, my family…he has a grudge against me and perhaps the entire Uchiha clan." Naruto sighed.
"That isn't anything new. It seems like a lot of people have issues with your clan and specifically, you. But, most of those shinobi are bound by the peace laws we established. To pursue you as he is now…" Naruto said.
"He hates me," Sasuke said. "I must've have hurt him directly somehow and now, he wants me dead."
He understood the feeling very well. He knew what hate was. To gain power over a long stretch of time, gain allies to help on the journey, do whatever it took to kill what you hated…Sasuke knew that feeling. Itachi and Danzo had been his targets of his hate in the past. Hate and pain were languages he spoke fluently.
Shikamaru looked towards Naruto. "The ANBU didn't report any sightings of Akugo?" he asked.
Naruto shook his head. "None. Komuji only reported ruins and Setsuka." The Nara clan head sighed.
"Well, if what you say is true, we have a problem," he said. Sasuke nodded. He knew what Shikamaru was getting at. Only Naruto seemed a tiny bit lost.
"What's the problem?" the Hokage asked. Shikamaru blinked.
"The ANBU didn't find him. The assassins, according to Sasuke's theory, were trying to draw him away from the village. Close enough that they could get in and get out quick but far enough away that they could draw Sasuke away. That plan didn't work," Shikamaru said. Sasuke nodded.
"So Yashin's next plan of action will be a full on invasion of Konoha. The village and its people are close to me. I'd defend this place until I died. If Yashin feels as though he knows me, he'll be attacking soon…very soon," Sasuke said, looking towards Naruto.
"What do you want to do?" Naruto asked. Sasuke was taken aback.
"You're Hokage," Sasuke conceded. "What are your orders?" Naruto smirked.
"Place the village on high alert. Make sure that every gate is guarded to full capacity. All missions, whether pending or currently active, abort them immediately. All shinobi need to be present. I need every genin to be with their jonin masters." Naruto looked at Sasuke. "Or in your case, I need your team with me." Sasuke nodded.
"I got it," the Uchiha said. It was understood. If Yashin was to attack, he'd probably gun right for Sasuke and if that battle were to take place, he wouldn't need to be distracted by trying to protect green genin. For some reason, Sasuke felt a tingle up his spine. It felt strange for a moment until Sasuke realized that it was excitement.
The rush flowed through his entire body until is very existence tingled. He hadn't felt this way in literal years. Why was the feeling overtaking him now? Was he actually glad to be nearly ready to face Yashin? Or was he just finding relief that this new tormentor now had a face?
Whatever the reason, Sasuke felt a new thrill. He felt alive again.
Naruto dismissed him and Shikamaru and on this rare occasion, Sasuke and the Nara were alone. The walk was awkwardly quiet. Sasuke had barely had any interaction with Shikamaru even while he was still a genin, but now during the long walk down the hall, it seemed like they should talk…it seemed that way.
"Sasuke," Shikamaru said. The Uchiha turned his head towards the man to acknowledge him. "Akugo is going to be gunning directly for you. His followers may be with him but he'll most likely want to handle you himself. If that does happen, I think it'd be wise to kill him quickly."
"And why is that?" Sasuke asked, not denying the validity of Shikamaru's statement.
"Because as you stated before, Akugo has a vendetta against you and anyone close to you. I doubt he'd have any qualms against destroying all of Konoha during your fight. The village's safety should be your first priority…" Sasuke turned stared Shikamaru down.
"My family's safety is my first priority," he retorted, before looking ahead again. "I agree, though. I won't hold back." Shikamaru sighed.
"Good." The Nara placed his hands in his pocket. "The last thing we need is for him to use that sword and siphon out your chakra."
"He won't touch me," Sasuke replied. The two men finally parted and the Uchiha headed home. The sun was just starting to rise above the horizon, casting it's orange and purple glow over Konoha. The colors reminded Sasuke of Naruto's Bijuu Cloak and his Susano'o clashing.
When Sasuke got to his home, he heard sounds of exertion coming from his backyard and walked straight around to the back. To his utter shock, he saw Takuma and Sosei locked in a sparring match. Sasuke watched in silence for a moment while his two sons fought back and forth.
Sosei's eyes were bright with the red glow of the Sharingan, blocking each and every one of Takuma's strikes. Sasuke's heir never lost his determination. He continued pressing his attack until finally, Sosei had to strike back. And Takuma dodged.
Sosei smirked at him and threw another punch that Takuma blocked and followed up with one of his own. This time, Sosei grabbed Takuma's arm and tossed him into the dirt. Sosei launched himself towards Takuma and pressed his foot on his back. Takuma panted and looked up at Sosei.
"I'm impressed. You managed to keep up this time, even with my Sharingan active. Still didn't get me, though," Sosei said, smirking. Takuma didn't respond. Sosei kneeled down and looked at his younger brother. With two fingers outstretched, he poked Takuma. "Maybe next time?"
Sasuke was frozen in place. Images of Itachi flooded into his mind. Every single moment he had ever had with his brother came to him in an instant.
Sasuke walked forward and wiped his eyes, reestablishing his cool persona as he approached his sons. Sosei was the first to stand and Takuma rose to his feet soon after.
"How long have you two been up?" Sasuke asked. Sosei shrugged.
"About an hour or so. Takuma came out a little later and challenged me to a sparring match," Sosei said. "You saw the results."
"I had you," Takuma said. Sosei smirked.
"Yeah, for a moment, you did. Get yourself a Sharingan and maybe, you'll get me next time." Sasuke couldn't disagree. He had expected Takuma's Sharingan to have developed by now, but for some reason, there hadn't even been a sign. Sasuke had felt swells in the boy's chakra but his Sharingan had never come…
"Well, I'm glad that you two are actually awake," the Uchiha said. "There's some things that I have to tell you…"
"Oh, I'm sure that they'll figure it out soon," a voice said behind Sasuke. The Uchiha whirled around to see the source of this unfamiliar voice and his scowl deepened as he saw who it had come from.
Standing in the middle of the Uchiha Estate lake was a solitary cloaked figure. Sasuke's eyes shifted to the Sharingan to extend his vision and made out the details of the man. His cloak was pitch black and he wore a white and dark blue smiling oni mask. A fire burned in Sasuke's chest as all of his emotions from the past week collided inside of him.
It was Yashin.
"Don't look so surprised, Uchiha," the terrorist called. "You should've known I'd come to you eventually." Sasuke glanced back towards Takuma and Sosei.
"Get in the house and get your mother and siblings. Find Naruto as quickly as possible," Sasuke said. Takuma frowned and Sosei glared forward, his Sharingan eyes burning.
"That's him, isn't it?" he growled. "That fucker killed my mother! I'm not leaving!" Sasuke cast his own Sharingan down on his eldest son.
"You will do as I say. Now, go," Sasuke said. Before either of his children could say anything else, Sasuke was across the lake in a flash. The Chidori came to his hand instantly and his eyes easily made out Yashin as he closed in on him.
A sudden kick threw Sasuke off balance and he crashed into the water. The Uchiha recovered quickly and stared up towards Yashin. He was no longer alone. In fact, he was surrounded by an army.
At least one hundred cloaked Kiri shinobi stood with Yashin, each with a different oni mask. The one that Sasuke had presumed to kick him stepped back as Yashin stepped forward. Sasuke's eye darted back and forth as he readied himself to be swarmed by the shinobi.
"You needn't worry, Uchiha," Yashin chuckled. "Our battle will be one on one. But, I haven't just come to kill you." The terrorist raised his arms. "All of Konoha will fall, because of you."
Sasuke watched as every single shinobi behind Yashin began to perform hand seals. Sasuke recognized the seals in an instant.
"Kirigakure no Jutsu!" the shinobi shouted in unison. Sasuke's lake began to swirl and spread out above him.
A thick cloud of fog stretched out over Sasuke's home and enclosed the entire village. After it had, the fog dropped and filled the air. Sasuke remained calm although his vision was almost completely cut off. The Sharingan would do nothing to assist his visibility here. Not even his Rinnegan would help. For the first time in years, he was a blind as the average man.
Sasuke saw Yashin walk through the fog, alone. In his left hand, he wielded the black bladed sword he had used to kill the Mizukage and Suigetsu. With his right, he lifted his hood and removed the oni mask from his face and dropped it in the water.
He was a young man with spiky black and dark grey eyes. His face carried no emotion, just a pain pounded into the core of his being. He didn't look too dissimilar to Sasuke at all. The Uchiha wondered if this was how he had appeared to everyone that he had sought to kill, a hate-filled youth with power to match.
The two stood in the fog, silent for what seemed to stretch for hours though Sasuke knew they had only been there for seconds. Sasuke's excitement from earlier had faded away, revealing something else within in him. Sobriety. The Uchiha realized as he stared at Yashin that he wouldn't just be killing a brash young terrorist.
He'd be killing his former self.