Character's: Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki
Word Count: ~ 1300
Author's Note: I rewrote it six times until I was even remotely satisfied.
Summary: “All what remains is the connection to the one person we would trade a peaceful death for a new and uncertain life.” After a short pause, Sasuke added “I will see you later.”
„You think what the old geezer said was true?“ Naruto asked Sasuke one evening. „About that stuff with the reincarnation.“
Sasuke noticed how Naruto was careful not to look at him and paying more attention to his unkempt hair instead. They sat a few meters apart already, but the way Naruto stared at the camp below them, watching his comrades in their makeshift home, told Sasuke a lot about how uncomfortable the topic made him.
Not even Kurama's chakra had burned so much in his stomach.
„I see no reason why not,“ Sasuke answered. „It would make sense on many levels.“
Unlike Naruto he was not sitting on the edge of a cliff the war had recently created, but hide in the canopy of the dense forest. Aside from his voice only the occasional reflection of the moon on his blade was proof he was there at all. A cold shiver ran down Naruto's spine. He had hoped Sasuke would scoff and belittle him for bringing up the subject in the first place.
With a voice made for telling ghost stories, Sasuke continued „We can summon animals larger than mountains, they come at our beg and call. Just as we have seen the dead return. So why should be reincarnation not be possible after witnessing events no other would believe to be true if told?“
„I guess you're right,“ Naruto muses. “I still don't like it.”
Yet he never had viewed the past Kages as truly dead. Wasn't their spirit alive through the Will of Fire? Or his Dad for instance. When he met him for the first time, he had been real enough to punch him. Despite everything he has seen and done, Naruto couldn't reconcile idea of reincarnation with the way he lived through the day.
The possibility of dragging old hurts into a new life, repulses him. Dumping his problems on some unsuspecting innocent child. He cannot imagine why Sasuke would alright with this.
He told Sasuke that much.
A huff of amusement sounded through the night and Naruto could sense the smirk, despite the darkness surrounding them.
“Haven't you realized yet that reincarnation means that this life is influenced by your previous ones as well?” Sasuke asks him. “Uzumaki Naruto is not the origin of a new cycle. You are a continuity, an attachment to a life lived before.”
“How can you be so calm?” Naruto shouts and finally turns around, looking in the direction where he very faintly senses Sasuke's chakra. “I am not a copy of a dead person and if I'm angry at someone than that's on my own entirely, not some remnant grudge I inherited.”
A greater fear Naruto had never known than the possibility there was nothing he could do to make people like him, because they remembered a hurt he was not aware of.
It's evidence of Sasuke's skill that Naruto didn't even hear how feet touch the ground as the Uchiha jumped down from the tree. Instead Naruto twitched, when Sasuke suddenly appeared in the faint light of the moon. The Uchiha smiled down on him and Naruto still felt his stomach churn at the sight. It always did and probably always would.
Reading or at least understanding Sasuke was as difficult as looking into the sun. Too painful for mortal eyes to be done for long.
“I rather like the prospect of having lived before,” Sasuke explained, without bothering of sitting down next to Naruto. The Uchiha just stood on the edge and kept talking, while he reattached the sword on his hip. “Even if I'm indirectly responsible for the war and its casualties, it would mean that I had a family once. That the Uchiha Clan lived perhaps not in peace, but in prosper and that I was always apart of it. I would chose to be one again if given choice.”
“I haven't thought about it this way,” Naruto mumbles thoughtfully. “I never imagined having kids.”
Not that the idea of a family hasn't crossed his mind now or then.
Back in his miserable childhood he had wanted one so badly, yet he had turned away from the idea because Sasuke had taught him that a Ninja couldn't always chose family first. Especially as Hokage the village would always come first.
I wonder if this was Dad's downfall , Naruto thinks.
How history had gone if the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi had not decided to have children. A very serious talk with Jiraiya had enlightened him. Usually women could handle a Bijuu better, since their wombs were made for carrying alien essence around and Naruto had not been chosen as host because of his relation to the Fourth Hokage, but because he had shared space with Kurama already. Nine months beneath Kushina's heart to be exact.
Given that history Naruto has decided to ignore women and the prospect of marriage for now. He would marry an entire village one day. It would be unfair for any woman at his side. He already knew he could not love Hinata or Sakura more than he loved Konoha.
Fulfilling that wish in another life on the other hand, … it would give him closure. Naruto breathed in relief. Reincarnation would not take the burdens away that awaited him, but it could make the duty easier to shoulder.
Lost in thought, Naruto nearly missed how Sasuke turned to leave. By now he had learned not to press when or if the Uchiha would return. Instead he commented on the remark he had nearly missed.
“You know I don't blame you for Madara's actions?” Naruto said. “Even if he is an Uchiha, he was born one and a half century ago. I cannot even see a resemblance in your character. Even with rebirth as possibility I cannot connect his name with yours.”
Sasuke turned around to fix his red eyes on Naruto.
“I can, but that's not the point. I'm not excusing his actions,” he explained. “I just know myself well enough that I would have easily taken the same course of action, had the circumstances been similar.”
Naruto saw Konoha burning behind Sasuke's Sharingan and shivered. He saw the unspoken I still might in them. Only a few people knew of Sasuke's former desire of razing the world to the ground and he felt most comfortable not discussing it.
“But the Sage of the Six Path said we are incarnation of his sons, Ashura and Indra. Which means we are not the same person as them. We are just distantly related, right?” Naruto asked instead. Mainly out of fear, because he didn't want to shoulder the weight Hashirama Senju's name would give him.
So Naruto stuck to the idea he had been born with Ashura's powers, not his personality. He imagined a corner which looked like museum, down in the sewers of his mind. Picking up an ancient invisible blade was very different from reaching back, thousand years into the past just to reclaim a name.
Sasuke's Sharingan were blazing and searching for the moon in the sky, effectively avoiding Naruto's questioning gaze.
“It's our nature, Naruto,” Sasuke whispered and it sounded like an old promise. Or like prediction of what was about to come. “We don't change. We cannot. How … if we forget, every time we die? We can only instinctual react to what we have carried over the threshold.”
“All what remains is the connection to the one person we would trade a peaceful death for a new and uncertain life.” After a short pause, Sasuke added “I will see you later.”
Then he was gone without leaving as much as a crinkled leaf behind. Lifeless stars twinkled above the battlefield and Naruto was left alone with the unanswered question, why Sasuke had never liked him if their life was based on a natural, yet reincarnated and immutable personality.
Years down the road without a hint of Sasuke to be seen, Naruto reconsidered Sasuke's last words and his standing on reincarnation. Mainly because of the burning question for whom Sasuke would return.
Deep in his heart Naruto suspected it was Itachi.
(Like always, Ashura sighed.)