ATB Rewrite. Yeah, I know I re-wrote it on dA, but I didn't like it, so I'm re-writing the re-write.
This is the last damn time I completely re-write this fic I swear. ♥ Can't help it though, it's the one fic I've put the most effort into ever.
Enjoy the preview. I'd write more but fuck I'm tired. Instead of going through the pre-existing chapter and tweaking it, I just restarted from scratch. Feel free to compare. Critique welcome, since it's the draft.
Memories consume, like opening the wound. I'm picking me apart again.
You all assume, I'm searching in my room. Unless I try to start again...
- Breaking the Habit by Linkin Park
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Whoever claimed death was 'just the beginning' had obviously never been dead before, of this, Uchiha Sasuke was certain. Had they actually died, they would have realized death felt like absolutely nothing. No bright light at the end of the tunnel, no grand halls where the gods awaited you for your bravery and valor. None of his clansmen could be found anywhere, nothing embraced him except for a cold blanket of darkness.
Thick yet intangible, Sasuke merely existed in this void, floating freely and consumed in his thoughts. Being released of his mortal coils had also freed him of his insanity, of Madara's corruption. He still kept a tight grip on his anger and hatred for Konoha for what they did to the Uchiha, nothing would ever heal that gaping wound, but his thoughts were now his own. The sinister voices of his dead kin no longer haunted his every waking moment and his dreams - one did not dream when dead in any case. He now had his freedom and his rightful mind back, and his death had brought him some semblance of peace as he reflected on his final moments.
Naruto. Somehow, no matter what Sasuke had accomplished, good or evil, everything had always come back to the blond. Betraying Madara had been a simple affair once Itachi had told him the truth of the Uchiha clan, of how the older male had meddled in affairs for the sake of revenge. An old man with an old grudge, he had doomed his own clan for selfish reasons. Sasuke had gladly joined up with Naruto to kill the bastard.
Then just as easily, he turned around and betrayed Naruto. The final battle, their true fight which had been set aside for the war and ambitions had come to pass. There had been no holding back, no apologies or confessions of lost friendship. Their time had come, and both had been eager, ready, waiting. One of the true moments Sasuke had actually felt free.
He had died with a smile. Thinking of those last moments now still made him smile.
Unfortunately, Sasuke's desire to be reunited with his brother had been denied to him by the gods, he had quickly learned. The void had consumed him and he had no idea how long he had been floating in the endless sea of darkness. A part of him did feel a sense of loneliness, Sasuke often wondered if this was to be his eternal punishment for his actions and decisions.
Although Sasuke refused to regret anything, he knew the choices he had made had not all been good ones. Madara had latched onto him during his moment of pure weakness, using Itachi's death to infiltrate his mind with words and the Eternal Mangekyo. He had willingly given himself over to Madara, had allowed the invasion because he had been so incredibly tired. His entire life had been nothing but a complete lie, the shock and devastation would have made him suicidal, so giving in to Madara had seemed simpler. The enemy? Konoha. Blood for blood, massacre for massacre. To immerse himself in the throes of madness, to continue to be played as a pawn for someone else's grand schemes. Sasuke had known no other life to live and had preferred to remain ignorant.
He could admit to himself that he never should have trusted Madara, but a part of him had been too weak to resist. Just like all those years ago with Itachi, Sasuke had been unable to defend himself against Madara's superior strength with genjutsu. Naruto had broken through the darkness with Itachi's help.
Pain and rage filled Sasuke's still heart as images of his undead brother returned to haunt him. Killing Kabuto once had not been nearly enough to repay him for desecrating his brother's corpse, even if doing so had given him those precious few moments Sasuke had needed the same as one needed air to breathe.
"I failed you Sasuke," Itachi's gaze had reflected nothing but pure sorrow, his disappointed tone had brought Sasuke to his knees, begging for forgiveness.
"I did it all for you niisan! Please...please don't hate me."
Naruto had stayed back but the look of anguish and regret had etched into normally jovial features. The two brothers had allowed his presence, because it always came back to Naruto.
"This is the way it's supposed to be." Sasuke voice sounded strange in the Void. No echo, the darkness seemed to suck up the words the moment they were uttered. Closing his eyes, Sasuke tried to shift from a different train of thought, but when all one could do was think - and he had a lot to contemplate on - changing directions became difficult.
Being dead surprisingly made him feel at peace, although he would have preferred better accommodations. The Uchiha line died with him, and Sasuke knew this ending was the right one. With his death, with Madara's death and the uniting of the nations, horrid crimes like the ones committed against his clan would not be repeated. If Naruto still lived - and Sasuke would bet another eternity in his black prison on that he was - the blond would make sure true peace would come to fruition. He would fulfill Itachi's dreams where Sasuke could not, and with justice fully served - those council bastards dead - Naruto would make the world the way it should be.
You should be at his side, changing the world.
Sasuke's body went ramrod straight at the familiar voice. Itachi? No...impossible. There were no other presences, Sasuke was sure of it. The voice was in his head, he merely missed his brother and now was hallucinating his voice.
Could dead people even do that?
You were meant for more than this, otouto.
"No." The word came out thick and slurred, making Sasuke frown in thought.