Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Good Enough ❯ One-Shot

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Naruto does not belong to me. It all belongs to the creators and/or publishers par the story below.
A cool grip takes his hold around his neck, and he knows he's been caught.
He struggles, of course, but he's long run out of kunai and shuriken, and his radii and femurs have been broken; he wonders if this, perhaps, is the end, and then if the clan will be angry at him if he allows their bloodline to go into an outsider's hands. It doesn't matter though, he supposes, and drags his fingers against the white bone that erupts out of his skin. It doesn't hurt, he notices, and quietly wonders if he's lost too much blood to recognize this for what it is.
Then he wonders, a bit morbidly, whether he'd die of blood loss or suffocate first, and a slow, easy smirk moves its way across his face.
“You're taking an awfully long time to kill me,” he baits his tormentor. “Am I your first?” The thought amuses him somewhat, because it would be terribly shameful to get killed by a novice shinobi.
But then, some would consider him a novice too, he thinks, and wonders how many chuunin get killed on their first mission. The number should be high, he thinks, and wonders if he'll add up as well. It doesn't matter, though, because even though it wasn't the way he planned it, he'll be free from the clan for good.
The man reacts the way he expected he would.
“Shut up, you little bastard. I'll kill you.” He smiles, a tooth missing, and says, “But not before I gouge out those pretty eyes of yours.”
He isn't frightened—he has very little doubt that the man is smart enough to know about his bloodline ability, and his isn't fully developed yet, anyway. But he deactivates his eyes and wonders what will happen when they find out he's dead. It doesn't matter though, because it never really matters, and no one cares about his opinion anyway.
“But, you know,” the man continues, “I'd of never expected that that village would manage to raise such a little prodigy. Too bad you're dying here. I would have rather liked you on my side.”
The man didn't smile this time, he notices, and then he knows that this man will kill him whether he does anything or not. So instead of panicking or whining out secrets the way this man wants him to, he yawns. Then, with a wondering tone, he mentions, “You know, my mother is pregnant. I wonder if I'll have a little sister or a brother.”
The man frowns at this, and slaps him across the face. “Delirious from pain already? Shame, shame.”
He doesn't react to this, because it is plainly not worth his time, but the man is obviously not prepared to let him go.
So he shuts his eyes, and as the metal rushes towards him, he thinks about his family, and his place in the world. It's strange, he thinks, that he's thinking of things like this now of all times, but it happens that way.
And then he wonders what hell will be like.
Good Enough
The room is eerily silent, and he bows his head, pushing it into the tatami for forgiveness. He can feel the eyes of the clan head on his back, black that has metamorphosed into red, and knows that the leader will not be merciful. But he bows, and hopes he can at least save his wife, and begs.
“Lord Uchiha, I beg of you. I will take any punishment you see fit. But please leave my wife and children alone.” He grovels. “I impede on your reign, but please forgive this worthless man and allow him peace of mind if only to save his family.”
The man turns to him. “Very well, Tanaka. I will give you one chance.”
“Thank you, Lord Uchiha! You are most kind.” He smiles from his position, but does not raise his head. The clan head will give him a chance, one that he will gratefully accept. “Please tell me what it is that you wish for me to do.” He is willing to do anything, to save his wife, to save his children, to survive.
“Raise your head.” The order comes, and Tanaka does so, only to recoil in fright.
Beside the clan head was a young teenager, hair spiking in the back, but smooth and cleanly cut. He is pale, with locks of black silk, and red eyes with three dark marks within them accompanying the normal retina. He does not speak, but a gloved hand touches the sword at his waist lightly, as if the owner is contemplating whether or not it is worth the effort.
He is expressionless, Tanaka sees, and then knows that the Lord Uchiha is not so merciful after all. Because no one needs introduction to the male beside him—he is the justice of the clan, he is the one that brings glory to their name—
He is the one who executes them.
It takes all of Tanaka's will power to turn to look at the clan head, and he sees amusement flicker in those cold eyes. Then the man continues, “I assume you know my son.” Pride is thick in his voice. “I will give you this; if you can survive about against him, I will allow this offense to be paid with only your life. If you die in a bout against him, then only the children will live.” It is a bargain that Tanaka knows will not last, and he knows he cannot win.
But here is the opportunity at last, to save his family—if only part of it.
So he nods, to the clan head, accompanied by a, “Of course, Lord Uchiha. When?” He waits for the answer with a heavy heart, and cannot help the tightening of his fists.
“The afternoons are warm during this time of year, and the nights are cold. Which do you prefer?” The clan head asks, mocking him, and then says, “I would think you may like to die in a cool night. So let us have this fight at midnight. You know where to go?” The question is rhetorical, because everyone knows where the slaughtering grounds are.
“Of course, Lord Uchiha.” He answers, and knows he cannot win. But he knows now that the children will be saved, so he swallows his pride and bows once more. He will die, Tanaka thinks to himself. The Lord Uchiha must die if anything is ever to come of their clan. Then he leaves, readying himself to die.
Behind him, a dark smile stretches across the Lord Uchiha's face, and he turns to the teen beside him. Wordlessly, the male draws his sword and places it before his lord's feet onto the tatami before bowing so that his head touched the cool steel. The man's smile stretches as his weapon prostrates himself before him. It was complete submission; it was utter control of this weapon.
The Lord Uchiha nods once to the servants in the room, and they disperse. He then begins to take steady strides out of the room. Before he left, however, he says this to the still bowing male. “You'd best kill him quickly, Sasuke. I do not wish to be kept up so long.” The male, from his place, grunts his assent, and the clan leader's eyes sharpen in amusement. “And you're getting sloppy. I do expect you to train before this. Understand?”
Sasuke speaks nothing as his father left the room. He waits a moment, verifying that the older man was really leaving him, and then stands and slides the sword back into its sheath.
The quiet clink is heard by only him.
He leaves the darkened room where so many lost the righteousness and the honor of their lives to that man. Sasuke says nothing, neither comforting nor biting to the pain and suffering that is so very apparent in that room. For he is the one who causes their suffering, he is the one who kills them in place of his own happiness.
Is that wrong, he wonders, and before he realizes it, he is in front of his room. He slides the door open silently and then closes it behind him in one smooth motion. Then, he removes his clothing—first, undoing his collar and then the obi at his waist. With the absence of these parts, the rest of his clothing slides away easily, a black pile on the ground.
He leaves the clothing where it is; he will be changing back into it for the battle. But he opens the small drawer he has beside his bed, and pulls out a soft navy kimono. He slips the edges around his shoulders, pulling the right end of the collar over his left, making it the tomoeri of the kimono; using the right edge as the upper part of your kimono, he knows, signifies that he is dead. For only the dead wear their kimono this way, and Sasuke wonders if it is a little bit odd of him to do so. But he ignores it and pulls the darker sash of the obi around his waist, pulling it closed and finally tying it into a small datejime, or thicker sash to make an elegant form. He straightens his kimono, and fingers the single kamon of the Uchiha clan on the back of his kimono.
Then he slips the tabi onto his feet and adjusts them slightly for the grass-woven sandals upon his feet. Finally, Sasuke straightens the end of his kimono once more before slipping his sword into the obi. It is dark against the smooth cloth, and makes the symbol on his back stand out more, red and white and reminding outsiders that he was an Uchiha.
He stepped out of the room, newly garbed, and left the area just as quickly. There was somewhere he needed to go before he killed another; there was someone he needed to speak to. It doesn't take long for him to reach the place, and he walks into the place of the dead.
He has not brought incense, or any offering. He never does—not to the brother he had never known. Still, reaches the grave he knows is empty, and Sasuke reaches out white fingers to brush against the engraved words.
Itachi Uchiha
He knows the story better than he knows his own; the genius older brother that died before he could remember—the one who they were so sure could carry the clan. The one who was killed in action; the one whose body was never recovered. The one who had a grave but no ashes, the nin who was praised and adored.
The brother that he had been reconstructed after.
He silently bows his head in respect for the dead, but wonders, not for the first time, what it would have been like if Itachi had survived. But he dismisses the thought, because he is dead and Sasuke is alive.
Because Sasuke is the one who was not good enough for his father; because Sasuke is the one that Itachi left behind to their father; because Sasuke is the one who took the place of Itachi, but he still isn't good enough. Because Sasuke is the one who is alive and helpless in the stream of life, and Sasuke is the one who survived all of his missions and Itachi is not.
And before he knows it, he has stood and the grave is still like it has always been. No body. No ashes. No proof that the person whose name was so clearly emblazed into the stone was actually dead. But everyone accepts it as it is; nin's bodies are often left unfound because of the conditions in which they died. Is it possible, he wonders, that such a thing could happen, that maybe his brother was alive? Then his thoughts stew down, and he hates himself for letting himself come to be so pathetic as he always is.
Sasuke always comes to the same conclusion. Perhaps, if Itachi had lived, their clan would be different. Maybe their clan would be perfect. But since there is only Sasuke, their father is power-hungry and berating and Sasuke is still not good enough. He doesn't believe in fate, not like the Hyuuga clan that is so easily overlooked because the Uchiha clan is so much obviously superior. He doesn't believe that he was fated to become the weapon of a man whose only goal is to take over the village and have absolute reign.
Admittedly, perhaps he just doesn't want to believe that he could be so weak—his father is not strong enough to take the position of Hokage, which would give him the control he desired; still, Sasuke allows the man to lead him.
Sasuke knows that he is stronger than his father. He must be, if he is the weapon of choice, if his father prefers to use him instead of doing it himself. So then, he wonders, why can he not overcome the place that his father has forced upon him? He knows the answer, somehow, that he fears beyond life itself, and shuts the thought away from his mind. But somehow it keeps growing beyond his control and suddenly he's aware of what a coward he is.
He clings to the preconceptions others have for him—whether it be because it was how he was raised or because he cannot overcome them. And it hurts him, to know that he is so terribly weak and that he is just not good enough to do anything but obey others.
Sasuke gives a short prayer for his brother and stands. He has wasted enough time here—and as always, he has thought too much. He sighs, a bit disappointed in himself, but glad nonetheless that he has come. Otherwise he may become arrogant in his strength, and Sasuke is glad, if only for this one purpose, that Itachi can still support him from the dead.
Even if that support causing self-loathing, Sasuke is glad to have it. With that thought, he leaves the quiet cemetery, and leaves the dead amongst themselves once again. Now he takes another detour—not to a grave yard, for the one who has died this time was not given that honor.
He does buy an offering now, at a flower shop he vaguely recognizes. The girl at the counter is blond, with long hair drawn up into a ponytail and eyes the color of ice. Sasuke knows she is familiar, and at the sight of the headband around her waist realizes who this is.
Yamanaka Ino.
An average nin from a clan of mind-controllers. She graduated at the same time as everyone else in their grade—except Sasuke—and was a `popular' person during that time. Still, he deigns to speak, and instead runs his eyes over the selection the store has. It isn't a large store, so he takes his time, observing the care each flower is given. Surprisingly there are few wilted ones, all brightly colored and groomed neatly.
Sasuke sees the flower he has come for and gently picks up four of them, white carnations that are blooming and fragrant. The blooms are soft and Sasuke gently runs his fingers across them before walking to the counter. He places the gently onto the table, careful not to crush their petals, and waits.
Ino does not look at him while the purchase is being made, instead wrapping the long stems in soft plastic and tying it off. She only looks up when she has finished, with a bright, “Will that be—”
And then she stops, and the flowers fall from her grasp, striking the floor in a delicate grace. Her eyes are wide and her fingers fumble as she reaches for them, but two have already been crushed so she clears them away. Sasuke, in response, places two more flowers upon the counter, this time an anemone and a larkspur.
Ino glances over his choices before rewrapping the flowers. Silently, she runs over the meanings of the blooms: Anemone, fragility; Larkspur, beautiful spirit; White Carnations, remembrance. It was an odd combination of flowers, but then, she thought, the one who chose them was odd as well. She glances surreptitiously at the male in front of the counter.
She hadn't seen Uchiha Sasuke in a long time. Not since he had enrolled in the academy—not since he had graduated, that first year. She had heard a lot of things about him, however; he was the one who was going to be taking over the position of clan head in the Uchiha clan. Sasuke was strong, strong enough that he was rarely sent on missions, and that no one dared to cross him anymore. She had also heard a rumor that he was the one who judged the criminals that pertained to the Uchiha family.
But, ignoring everything she had ever known about him, Uchiha Sasuke had become so very…frail looking, she supposed. He was handsome, of course—but it was kind of a sickly beauty that made you feel like he was going to break. Ino had the urge to ask him questions, to smother him, and she had no idea what was going she repressed it, and instead says, “That'll be 925 yen.”
He hands her the amount, swiftly removing the wrapped flowers from her hands, and leaves her shop without a second thought. Ino watches his back as he goes, and can't help but feel like suddenly, he's so much older than he's supposed to be.
But Sasuke continues on his path, taking note that it will get dark in two hours, and fingers the petals of the delicate blossoms he had purchased.
Two white carnations, for his father and brother; a larkspur, for her, and…an anemone for his own. This combination was that of their family. Remembrance for the dead and the one who would refuse to, the beautiful one who looked over them all, and the fragility of the one who wasn't good enough to make their family stable again.
He passes the graveyard again, but did not go into it, instead heading back into the Uchiha compound. He does not acknowledge the clansmen who stood at the gate, merely passes by them and enters the estate. Soon enough, he has reached the back garden, and there, covered in moss, was the dirty gravestone of his mother.
It did not have any markings and was not clean, no one knowing but he that it was the place where a dead woman's ashes slept. He gently arranges the flowers around that stone, offerings that he hopes will ease her suffering. This is the only time when he can pray for her, and he is cold, knowing that he will be the only one who can pray for this woman.
A gentle brush of the rock tells him that no one has moved it, and he stands after a moment, watching the place of his mother's eternal rest.
And then, just as quickly, Sasuke makes his way into his room. He cannot let anyone ever find out about that stone. Never.
The man before him is dead, now, killed just as his father had told him.
His wife will soon follow. But at the very least, his children will be spared, and for that, Sasuke gave the man a painless death. For though they are abandoned now by the parents that should have raised them, they will have a chance at life, and will support each other through the hard times. His father, behind him, is boasting loudly about some thing or another, and Sasuke, very quietly, closes the eyes of the man that was known in life as Tanaka. He will not be cremated in honor, Sasuke knows, and hopes that this will be enough to soothe his spirit.
His father calls to him, “Sasuke. Come.” His voice is prideful, arrogant. It is demanding somethin of him that Sasuke is not sure he will be able to fulfill, because isn't he not good enough? But nevertheless he approaches the two men, and his father says, “This is Sasuke.”
The other man, who is tall and with dark, tan skin, compliments, “You did a good job there. Swift and painless—you're a very kind executioner.” He has a cigarette dangling from his lips. “I'm Asuma, kid. I worked, for a very short time unfortunately, with your brother.”
His father looks at him with Asuma's first statement; his eyes are dark and Sasuke knows that he's been caught. He will probably be questioned later, Sasuke knows, but nods and looks at this…Asuma.
“But I've gotta say,” the man continues, “You're really quite alike. Quiet, young, and skilled.” He turns to Sasuke's father. “Fugaku, I don't suppose you'd let me talk to him a bit about that?”
Sasuke's father nods, and looks at Sasuke. “I want to speak with you tomorrow morning. Don't stay out too late.” Then, he leaves, and the only ones left in this place that smells of blood and death are Sasuke and Asuma. Even the body had already been carted away.
Sasuke turns to the older man and offers, “Would you like to come in for tea, or would you prefer to talk in the training grounds?” He isn't sure what they were talking about, but he wanted this talk to be over with as soon as possible.
The man responds, “Well, aren't you the perfect little host? Let's go to the training grounds then.” He is sarcastic, but Sasuke can't bring himself to care when there is obviously something that they're keeping from him. So they move slowly, walking to the training grounds, and Asuma mildly comments, “I wasn't kidding when I said you two were alike. Following orders, hating your position in life, and…being most concerned when it was your brother at stake, and not yourself.”
Sasuke retorts, “You don't know me at all.”
“Don't I? Most geniuses are alike in at least one way—you and Itachi are just more unique and because of that, you're rather similar.” Asuma says thoughtfully, “And you're too young to realize how easily you are deceived.”
It didn't make sense to him that he was so easily summarized, and then, he realizes, this is another way of being looked down upon by an elder. This was their way of showing that he still wasn't what he was supposed to be—that he couldn't fill in the gap that Itachi had left behind.
So he remains silent, clutching the fabric of his clothes in respite of himself, and almost misses the next thing Asuma says.
“He used to do that too, you know.”
Sasuke looks at his companion at that, and replies, “Does what?”
“That thing you're doing now. Being silent and brooding when he doesn't like something.”
“I think everyone does that.”
“No,” Asuma says, a bit of mirth in his voice now, “there's a kid, about your age, in fact, who eats when he's mad. There's nothing wrong with it—he eats when he's happy, too.”
“Akamichi Chouji.”
“That's right.” Asuma agrees. “How do you know him?”
“He is my age. I graduated earlier.” Sasuke says, and then falls silent. Today has been full of thinking of people whom he never had the chance to know, Sasuke realizes, and he wonders if there's a reason for that.
They arrived at the training grounds, and the sky was littered with stars. It is peaceful here, Sasuke thinks, and wonders if he can come back again during the night. After he took the place at his father's side he has not been given missions, and he needs to train. Sasuke basks in the scent of the trees, and the fresh air.
“Uchiha Itachi's eyes have been found.”
The world narrows into a single path. “What…” Sasuke shouts, composure lost, “are you talking about! That's impossible…Itachi is dead, Itachi can't be…Itachi can't be reappearing now! He's been dead for over five years!” Sasuke can't stop the hysteria that is bubbling up. Itachi is supposed to be dead. Itachi isn't supposed to still make him so inadequate after his death. He's…he's supposed to be good enough now!
“He's dead, kid. But his eyes are the playthings of idiots now.” Asuma lights another cigarette. “And Fugaku wants you to get them back.”
Sasuke understands now. He understands what his father wants, and he has no doubts that it will be an order the minute he returns to the compound. He understands why now his father has finally decided that he's worthy—that he's good enough—to do this one thing.
And he hates himself for agreeing in the end.
He's running now, because he knows where the eyes are. The pathway before him is steep and narrow, and he has to be careful or he'll screw up the mission. One eye is swollen shut, and a humerus is broken; half the visibility, and he can only use one arm. His legs are fine though, and Sasuke knows he can get through this if he could just…
The path abruptly stops, and Sasuke has to use chakra to stop himself from a freefall. He glances into the room he almost fell into—long tables are below him, covered in silk cloths and there are chairs lining the edges. No windows—not a surprise, he tells himself, because they're underground—and the only other pathway was on the other side of the wall.
Sasuke carefully begins to run against the wall, making sure that his feet are stable and he is moving silently; then, he reaches the other side of the cavern, and he's almost through the next doorway when a single rock breaks out from under him. It lands with a loud clatter on the table below, and before he knows it, someone is screaming and yelling and a sharp pain forces its way up through his femur and—
I'm the one screaming, Sasuke realizes first, and then, they just shot me with a crossbow!
He can do this, Sasuke knows, because if he can't then he'll never be good enough for his father to acknowledge and he'll be useless and terrible and—Sasuke's vision blurs and he tries hard to tell himself that the wetness on his cheeks is sweat and not tears.
So he enters the tiny doorway and pulls on the steel arrow through his leg. It comes out, and Sasuke has to stop himself from letting out a silent scream. He frowns afterwards at the sight of crimson, because he was never trained to be a medic nin; but he wraps the wound with some loose bandages and continues his way down the corridor. His blood, red and dark, trailed behind him the entire way.
And then he's in another room, and he realizes that they have hired nin because the shuriken and kunai don't lie, and the fact that there are so many in him does not look good. He, himself, is running low on ammunition, so he pulls theirs out of his flesh and begins to use them, because if they're here anyway, why not—
He's bleeding a lot more now, and the other nin are dead. Only an older man is left and Sasuke keeps an eye on him as he retrieves the eyes and places it in his pouch. He moves to exit out the doorway, and the man cackles.
“You're just like him, you know. Lotsa blood and beautiful eyes. Would you like to be with me? He didn't so I killed him. But I kept his eyes. Shame they weren't red, though—not like yours.”
Sasuke doesn't know what's he's doing, but by the time his vision clears, the man is headless. It doesn't matter, he thinks, and then decides that it's not worth chasing after another. He exits the room and doesn't look back.
When Sasuke comes back, he's lost a lot of blood, and knows that he'll die soon. But he's retrieved the eyes and doesn't that mean that he's finally good enough? He did what he was told after all, Sasuke thinks, and maybe dying won't be so bad after all.
But he enters the gates, and something is wrong. There is blood all over the courtyard, but no bodies. He picks up his pace, wandering through the halls—all of them bloodstained. And then Sasuke hurries, heading to the room he just knows is where everything is happening.
On the door, the words are scribbled in blood.
Such Pretty, Pretty Eyes
And Sasuke grasps the tiny bottle that contains his brother's eyes, and clutches it to his chest. Blood soaks the ground beneath him, and he walks all the way into the room he had known so well. There, Fugaku sat.
Sasuke gently crawls into his lap, and then, to the heavens, he asks. Am I finally good enough?”
Asuma knew something was up, because the Uchiha clan—the whole lot of them hadn't been seen for five days, and Asuma wasn't sure what to make of it. He slid open their gates, and the metallic scent of blood met his nose. There aren't any bodies, though, and Asuma sends the chuunin he has with him to go get help.
Then he draws a kunai, and carefully walks through the halls of the estate. He notes that the blood is dry, and curses himself for being so stupid—then he takes off and begins throwing open doors.
And then, finally, there is only one door left, with disgusting graffiti that has already peeled.
Asuma throws it open; he has to struggle not to retch.
The smell of decaying bodies is stronger here than anywhere else, and, he observes with a shudder, the entire clan has been packed into the room and all their eyes are gone. Then he directs his attention to the center of the room, and Fugaku sits there, impaled through the spine with a spear.
And on his lap, covered in wounds that don't match the rest of the clans', is Sasuke. His eyes, Asuma confirms, are still present.
Then someone behind him screams, and Asuma turns, ready to launch several kunai at the intruder, but it's the team he sent out for—
They run in, and Asuma walks forward to give his report…
And a single jar, containing the dark eyes of Uchiha Itachi, clinks against his heel.
Thoughts? Comments?