Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

My apologies for the delay. As some of you may know, a lot has happened, but I'm happy to report my Profile page is being restored, and the new, updated Fanfiction Review Movement list is finally up. Thank you to all who have reaffirmed your pledge. It's nice to know, there are still many of you who support the spirit of the FRM. Alas, my Halloween story is finished and posted and I'm back to present you with the final chapter of "Regret." Here's to keeping my fingers crossed you enjoy it!

If she could, Sarada would hug her father forever, but with the Hokage and Master Shikamaru nearby, they serve as reminders, it's time to let him go. With one last squeeze, the young Uchiha composes herself and steps away from him to gather her thoughts and make one last announcement.

"Papa, I know time is short, but I need a minute more of your time. There's one last item I promised I'd give you," she says with seriousness, taking out her kunai and fishing for something at the bottom of its pouch. A smile graces her lips once she locates it.

"I know you weren't expecting this, but this one is from Mom."

He raises a brow. Sakura?

Quickly Sarada moves on to explain. "Sai gave me a package just before we landed in Konoha. Prior to leaving the special Clinic, Mom gave him some vials to bring back, and she left specific instructions for me to run them over to Tenten and have them sealed away in these itty-bitty scrolls she pre-ordered so I could give them to you. Goodness. Look at these! They're so tiny! I had to keep them in this little zippered plastic bag! Anyway, her note to me specified that this set will snap into the slot located within your belt buckle, right behind the family picture she placed in it. Your belt was bought specifically for this purpose and she was hoping the mini scrolls would come in before you left. Included in this batch are healing elixirs, vaccines, power pills, sleeping powders, and much, much more. Each is color coded and the magnetic forceps included in the bag will help you to clip and unclip them into the holders. Mom's note was clear, I should I do everything possible to find you before you departed, and she wanted me to let you know that this supply should last you a good long while. I'm not quite sure how, but she hinted you would already know how to use them."

He smirks. Of course, leave it to Sakura to stock him well before the journey.

"Mom wished she could be here, but since she couldn't get away, she asked me to see you off in her place," Sarada announces, voice trying to be strong but starting to fail. There is a pause and Sasuke acknowledges his daughter with a nod. He knows Sakura and he will miss each other but he is undoubtedly grateful for her gift that has all but ensured his safe return, without her even being there. Thank you, dear wife. Don't ever doubt, I'll do everything in my power to come back to you and Sarada.

"Papa," Sarada then says, gesturing for him to face her. He moves his body so she can secure the gift in his belt buckle. It snaps in easily and once all is back in its place, the brave front she's put on, slowly melts away. "Oh, Papa" she sniffles as a few tears start to fall.

"Don't be sad," he tells her, and in that split second he imagines that sad pout of Sakura's upon his own daughter's face, and it reminds him of something. Shoving his hand deep within his pocket, he finds he's in luck. It's still there.

Gingerly, he pulls out the emerald bracelet, the coveted one he and Itachi bought all those years ago for his late grandmother.

"Before I go, I want you to have this," he tells her, dangling the special gift from his fingertips. "The story will have to wait for another time but I hope you like it."

Sarada's eyes grow wide at the sparkling heirloom.

"Oh wow!" she exclaims, wiping the tears from her eyes. "For me? Are you sure?" She says with disbelief.

At this he nods.

"Goodness, this is...it's beautiful," she says with awe. Sarada then takes the precious gem bracelet into her hands and smiles.

"Your mother has the matching necklace," he informs her, and he can tell the announcement only makes it more special in her eyes.

"Thank you," she says gratefully. Pride shines in his eyes when she puts it on. This bracelet is an object that links them all: his Obachan...Itachi...himself...Sakura..and now Sarada.

A few silent moments of happiness fill the room, but the spell is soon broken as Shikamaru straightens. After a brief search, he takes something from his vest pocket and seals it with the books Sasuke brought with him. "Hey Sasuke, I just remembered, when we were analyzing Crow's message at the crypytanalysis lab, one of our fire type decoders discovered that bookmarks within Crow's books were chakra sensitive. It was also noted, Crow purposely left concentrated bits of his chakra on specific passages. I didn't think much of it until now, but for a fire type, like yourself, once touched, the bookmark should gravitate toward those areas. I've enclosed one of his bookmarks with your books and it should help to serve as a guide along with the Sharingan," he adds as he finishes clipping the scroll securely to Sasuke's belt.

Nice. Sasuke admits.

"From what I've seen, Crow always held the bigger picture of peace in mind. Those ideas he discovered truly have potential to create change. Sasuke, while you're away, make time glean everything you can from the his books. I'll do the same on my end, as I've located an identical set here on this desk," he mentions as he walks over and holds up the stack he is standing near.

"I'll also work to see if there's a way I can change the mindset of the White Zetsu here who've been exposed to Crow's beliefs. It's clear those particular White Zetsu had respect for Itachi. He may have initially been sought out as the coveted link to the portal, but over time, thoughts Ino came across seem to indicate it became something much more. Their reverence to Crow and his beliefs is spirited and strong. Maybe we can use that as our link to understanding and negotiating with our enemies."

Sasuke gazes down at the scroll containing Itachi's books and smirks. It would be just like his brother to be the one to instigate peace not just in Konoha but beyond their dimension.

"We'll reconvene as soon as you return. In the meantime, be safe," the Shadow Wielder bids.

Sasuke gives a curt nod and moves his gaze back at his daughter.

"Help Mom," he reminds Sarada, "and be there for Boruto during his recovery." He's your teammate and friend is implied and she knows how important these things are to him.

"It may take time, but when Boruto's ready to come back, I'll leave it to you to keep him on track," he adds. At that, her mood lightens and Sarada giggles while Naruto suppresses a snort.

"Don't worry Papa, I will."

Sasuke then takes one last look around him with his Sharingan. This is the very room where Itachi grew up, where his big brother lived and breathed everything Uchiha. Horrific struggles took place here for young Itachi that Sasuke isn't even able to fathom, yet ironically, it also appears to be the place where his brother met his final peace through the books he discovered. The very books Itachi is entrusting to him.

He stares at the portal. The unknown lies beyond it, and yet with everything that's transpired, there's a calm within him that wasn't there before. The solid love he has for both of his girls is beyond anything he had ever felt, and now, now that his daughter stands beside him with new understanding, even if the worst case scenario befalls him, he knows how incredibly lucky he's been to have established his new bond with Sarada and had this chance to reacquaint with his wife. He also recognizes there needs to be a higher purpose to his actions and is ready to try his best to follow in Itachi's footsteps.

"Sarada," he calls, capturing her attention and locking her with his gaze one last time. A visual message appears in her mind through the Sharingan. In it, she sees the scene of her father and mother holding each other while gazing in a mirror at an emerald necklace, followed by one of herself, tears wiped away with the joy of receiving the emerald bracelet. Remember, 'I. Will. Always. Love. You,' he conveys.

A tender poke to her forehead, personally seals his final message.

Glassy-eyed, she brings herself to smile and nod.

"Okay, Naruto, time to pop the lock," Sasuke orders. A moment of silent understanding is shared between them then Naruto nods.

The Seventh sucks in a breath and concentrates on the task at hand, channeling his chakra into his rasengan to get the rotational spin just right.

"I'm ready on your count, Sasuke," Naruto verifies. Bright blue eyes are emotion-filled yet ready to back him.

"Remember, we're counting on you to come back as soon as you can with the information."

"Hn," is all Sasuke says but it conveys all the affirmation Naruto needs.

"Explain things to Sakura," the raven-haired man urges his best friend. "And make headway with Toneri and Orochimaru by the time I'm back."

"I will," Naruto says as he puts his good hand on Sasuke's shoulder. Everyone will no doubt work hard to make a difference for the future ahead in the best way they know how.

The final signal is then given, and Naruto's blue orb suddenly increases in intensity and the portal soon brightens. After a bright flash, a black hole in the center unveils itself and slowly grows in size until it is soon a few feet wide. The much anticipated entrance to the next dimension now lies directly before their eyes. With newfound purpose, Sasuke takes a deep breath. Everything he's searched for is right in front of him, and as he looks one last time at Sarada, he savors the rush of emotions that fill him. They were oceans apart when he first came back, but now? He pauses. Now, Sarada's every bit his daughter, and an incredible blend of the best parts of Sakura and himself. She's a Kunoichi of Konoha and he loves her with every bit of his heart. The father in him will miss her, but there is an underlying duty neither can dismiss, one that each is inherently bound to, and both now understand. Regret was heavy on his mind when he first came back. Regret over his absence, over his past, over everything he did to make her life miserable. There were rough patches to weather, but thanks to open minded understanding, forgiveness came, a path he knows was paved with the help of Bhanti and Itachi's words.

"Until next time," he says ending with the unspoken promise to return.

"I love you Papa!" Sarada exclaims as he moves forward through portal. Her voice is the last thing he hears, and the small upturn of his lips just before he vanishes, isn't missed by anyone. In that instant, regret slowly disintegrates as a part of the past, and together in spirit, they find themselves moving forward to a new, brighter future. The very future where the meaning of Sarada's namesake and the attainment of Itachi's lifelong dream all have the possibility of becoming reality.

The End.

Author's Note:

I want to send a thank you to everyone who stuck with the story and made it to the end. So much has happened in my life over the course of writing "Regret." Honestly, it's been an incredible journey and I hope you enjoyed it. This story is many things, but after finishing this chapter I felt the Hurt/Comfort/Spiritual genre best categorized this story so I changed it.

A special thank you to flipjamz, ladywithpurplehair, , Sakura's Unicorn, Oldest Soul, wingedmercury, WintryLeen, and Yengirl for your contributions to make this story better. I adored your input! If anyone else would like to contribute to it with fanart or suggestions, let me know!

Favorites and follows are much appreciated and if you've gotten this far without commenting, I hope you'll consider leaving a review. I'd love to know what your overall impression was and/or what your favorite and least favorite chapters were.

With that said, I would certainly be remiss without sending out a BIG thank you to those who left positive constructive reviews. Honestly, when I was in a lull and needed motivation to continue, it was your words that inspired me to see this through. Please note those listed in bold represent the gold star reviewers who constantly provided motivation and reviewed each and every chapter as of today. Words can't express how grateful I've been to you. Thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You guys are amazing:

akirasatsuna, allhotdogsgotoheaven, Amasian, animefan28, AraelDranoth, Aruon, AwesomeEyes, Besweet, BigBonedNinja, BK2157, black'nwhitepanda, BloodPokemon101, broosewayne, Chaoticharmony1991, cinnamint08, ConclusionsOfTheHeart, Corina, , CWAPCRAP, Dani677, Darth-Taisha, DonningtheCowloftheDarkKnight, Drathermon Ling, een nihc, Eerie Ava, Elles1995, FightingDreamer1310, Frozenoreo, guest, Gh0st Fire, HiddenSecret564, Hinata001, iBloo, Ioga, Ita-chan18, jazzyberryjuice, Kaelin The Black Swan, KidAtHeart1980, KHB123, kylie555, ladywithpurplehair, Lock on Lockon, Mango Marbles, Mars, Maso Neko-chan, Maximillion77, mdolphin177, , memyselfandI98, mengtoreality, Metasapphire, mississippimudpiecraves, misspandaliily, The Mistress Snape, MLLu, mmok, Moobell64, naash, Natsumegf, narutofan, narutofan234, oetuazim, Oldest Soul, Ondjage, oyink, Pixie07, PlasticRoses79, princesshyuuga01, puppysprinkles77, rando, Razzy7, Redhood01, Redmoon, RushiAei, SakuMiChanNoGaara, Sakura's Unicorn, Sakuraapprentice7, Scarease, sexy sonic queen, ShadowOwner, SilenceEchoes39, Solaksis, Tina-isDEAD, Tomlinzoides, torikai, Tuvstarr's Lost Heart, Viewfromnamek, Vize, Weirdo-lover, wingedmercury, WintryLeen, Wolfernyx, xoxoGG, yara9292, and Yengirl

Fun fact: The last chapter of this story was purposely posted today, December 8, 2019, for Bodhi Day. Did you know today is the day the Buddha was enlightened?

Lastly, now that I have the revised Fanfiction Review Movement list up again, for those who have embodied the spirit of the FRM and would like to participate in an upcoming Show Me the Love Challenge for 2019, feel free to PM me and I'll share what I have planned.

Happy Bodhi Day and Happy Holidays to all of you. Here's to wishing you all the best in 2019!