(two: hunter and nukenin)
She couldn’t have stopped him.
Maybe it’s something she’d always known, albeit subconsciously, still so aware of her circumstances, of the future she only knew as fiction.
Some things cannot be changed.
She stopped him from going to Orochimaru–oh, that was the easy part. What is some stranger with false promises in comparison to his team–his friends? How could poisonous words and double-edged power ever compare to their history of trusting each other and facing dangers together, side by side?
No, that was the easy part. This Sasuke–her Sasuke, the Sasuke that she tied to herself and to Naruto with delicate strands of loyalty and friendship and vulnerability–would never leave Konoha for Orochimaru.
But that doesn’t mean he would never leave for a different reason. And if Orochimaru–some stranger who only ever spoke to Sasuke once, and in a fight at that–couldn’t match their importance as Sasuke’s teammates, then how would their short time together as friends compare to his clan? To blood and to revenge and to finally putting old ghosts to rest.
Sasuke wouldn’t leave Konoha–leave her–for Orochimaru. But for Itachi? For family? To fulfill the only goal he’s ever allowed himself to have?
Sasuke goes. Shikako stays.
She has never felt so insignificant in her life.
She thinks maybe the worst part about all of this is that she still doesn’t know what she should have done instead. If she handled it wrong, or if there just never was a right way to go about it. An imaginary series of actions and words that would have resulted in a bearable fall out.
But she had tried, at least, to prepare Sasuke for the truth, to minimize the impact. Little hints and whispered warnings; should she have done more?
Could she even have done so? Danzo waiting and watching, Sai sent years before he was meant to appear. Sasuke made paranoid by her own, seemingly inexplicable, suspicions. Had she made it worse instead?
The truth would have come out, one way or another. That at least she couldn’t and wouldn’t change. She had even tried to reveal it on her own–the most tenuous connections she could make, grasping at threads and hoping they wouldn’t snap–but not without risking her own secret.
And maybe that’s what the problem was. She knew everything there was to know about Sasuke–knew him better than he knew himself, even–but she hadn’t been willing to give him anything of herself. She was always holding back: maybe he could sense that.
Maybe it was easy for him to let go because she had never given him anything to keep.
When the truth behind the Uchiha Massacre is revealed, to say things went south would be a vast understatement.
Of course, things went differently this time around than she remembers. Or perhaps the political fall out wasn’t worth the ink on paper, especially not in an action-packed story loved for it’s characters.
But, unsurprisingly, there was turmoil amongst the clans–for obvious reasons, Danzo’s plots leading to nauseating implications. Even if she isn’t the clan heir, she had gotten tangled up in her family’s reactions–her father had been jounin commander, then, too. Had heard rumors of the Uchiha clan’s discontent, but hadn’t realized the extent of it, hadn’t been included in the response.
That relief–and how horrifying, that she had ever considered the opposite to even feel relieved–had been a slight breath, not even a sigh, before again she had been swept up in the consequences.
Clan politics is one thing, but for Sasuke? It was only ever going to be personal.
Sasuke goes. Shikako stays.
But only long enough to prepare herself–learn and train and plan. Maybe she couldn’t have stopped him, maybe some things cannot be changed.
Maybe it’s too late to reach out, to offer herself to him and hope that their brief shared history–moments of honesty and scraps of affection and their bond of trust, strained as it has become–will be enough to make him come back.
But she’ll be damned if she isn’t going to at least try.
A/N: So it’s… not really how they get together so much as… Shikako chases down Sasuke. Actually, it’s not even that either… but it still works, I think?
For @book14reader who wanted “regrets” and all I could think of was, well, she couldn’t save him completely: Orochimaru is one thing, but family? How could she compete against that? Especially Itachi. But even Obito/Madara are technically his family, too.
And I know, the style’s not the same as the first installment, but it really seemed to flow better like this and, well, considering each installment is basically separate, I don’t HAVE to make each part the same.
I will add this to ao3… later.