A/N: Hi everyone; long time, no see. A little more than two years, actually. The short story: in the span of a year and a month, I lost both of my grandparents. I've had a lot to do in real life, and for a long time didn't feel like writing. So I started playing Skyrim. (dear lord. of course it spawned its own story, but is only posted on my archive account because it breaks FFN guidelines). But! With the quarantines about, I suddenly have a lot of free time, so I will be writing while I can. I hope you enjoy this somewhat shorter than normal, but action-packed chapter :3
Something had been bothering me for days, and I feared that if it went on too much longer it might just drive me mad.
…Okay, maybe I was exaggerating a little bit, but it was still annoying the living hell out of me. It was times like this that I dearly missed Google. One quick timeline search and I could at least be relatively sure if this anxious, anticipatory feeling was warranted. All because Mirai brought me the news that someone from the Uchiha clan had reached out through Nekomata; that Hisoki had been in Sora-ku and tested a young Uchiha freaking Sasuke and thought the boy could be an acceptable Summoner.
And now here I was, no longer able to properly enjoy the winding canyons and pleasant breezes of River Country because I was being driven batty by the question: When was the Uchiha Clan going to be massacred?
Damn it all. Back to Fire Country it was.
Mirai must have picked up some of my uncertain mood, because even after we started drawing closer to Konoha she remained quiet, clinging tight to my shoulder as I leapt through the trees. Something about the trees even seemed wrong, so much so that I had to stop the next time I landed on one of the special ones, lean down and touch the bark with hands and vines both.
The connection was deep and immediate, with the almost disquieting sense that the tree knew or maybe thought. It definitely did want to tell me something, something that the next and the next and the next tree had told it, like the attention of all these strange trees had turned in one direction, to one point, with something like concern.
It was weird as shit. At this point I couldn't even tell if I was the weird one, or if there was something distinctly off about these Fire Country trees.
It didn't keep me from going where all the trees were "looking", however. If anything, now I ran faster. Time felt limited.
I came upon the river –the same damned river, only farther downstream this time– and didn't hesitate to leap in, sparing the moment of thought to toss Mirai to the bank while the rest of my attention was focused on my chakra sense because what the hell—
(No, I recognized that sensation, though I hadn't felt it in years. That fade. That was someone dying—)
(Why did the trees lead me to—?)
My hand made contact with skin, an arm, and I heaved backwards, feet buried in the mud and debris of the riverbed as I dragged them free, out—someone significantly taller and larger than I, but that barely mattered anymore. Not like it would have in my past life.
"Yuki! What's going on! Who—oh, oh, what," Mirai stepped warily forward, dainty paws hesitating on the muddy bank as I reemerged, blood-amber and blue eyes fixed on the person I had barely even seen in the churned-brown water. "Yuki, his eyes."
And then I remembered who Shisui was.
Maybe not for long.
I looked at him, finally, dark hair plastered to his skull—blood seeping from beneath sunken eyelids. Chest still. Not dead yet, but so very close.
(Where would he go? The Pure World? Would he be reborn, reincarnated, like I was, elsewhere?)
Oh, to hell with it all.
I dropped to my knees beside him, tuning out Mirai's frantic questions as I reached for his throat, held my breath until I felt the barest beat of a pulse through my fingertips, sighed out something like a laugh. I had hated that damned CPR class, so of course I remembered what to do.
He was limp, dead weight, and resisted the turn to his side to drain the water from his lungs, but I was strong enough to force it because it was still safer than trying to use chakra to remove it—I wasn't that precise an instrument. The weak ember of his chakra was guttering, and I hurried to turn him back and pinch his nose, tilt his head back; the cold clamminess of his mouth against mine tore away the dreamy surreality of the last ten minutes, and I breathed.
One second, two, three, four.
Lean back, and wait. His chest remained still.
Again. Lean in, breathe out; one, two, three, four.
Lean back—he still had a pulse. His chest was unmoving.
Again. His mouth was slightly warmer from stolen heat. One, two, three—Shisui's chest hitched under my other hand, and I tore away in time to avoid the spray of water and bile he spat up. Still mostly unconscious, but some color flooded his sallow cheeks as he hacked and coughed, chakra sparking and wavering, unsteady but not fading—for now. There was no way he would survive long without a medic.
"Mirai," I said, deadly serious, demanding her attention like I never did. "This is Uchiha Shisui. He has a Contract with the Crows. Take him to Chikao-sensei."
Eye huge, the calico runt nodded once and quickly leapt to the Uchiha's side, but then hesitated with one paw on his chest. Shisui's breathing hitched and stuttered.
"Be careful, otouto," she said gravely, and disappeared them both back home, only a shallow dent in the muddy bank betraying where the Konoha nin had nearly died.
I breathed out and sat back, somehow chilled in the late summer heat. Question answered; the Massacre would be soon.
New question: what was I going to do about it? And then; should I even try? What could I do? I couldn't stop it; did I want to try?
But, no, rethink that. Reframe it. My family still wanted Uchiha to sign their Contract. They could still have Sasuke even after the massacre, I could find a way to get him to sign, I'm sure. But was he enough? That boy would be damaged, there was no telling what the future would bring; if he would continue his Clan's bloodline; if he would want to.
But my family wanted Uchiha.
Oh, that could work. That could work very well.
Now, how to go about it…
I got as close to Konohagakure as I dared before I attempted my summoning, but I wasn't calling either of my siblings. Not this time. This time it was an open request fueled by all the chakra I could give, as many cats as could come; those that could reverse summon with at least once human in tow, those that could avoid notice without using chakra.
The summoning hung unanswered for a long moment, a hesitation that forced me to scrape deeper, to push a last painful surge of chakra forth, and then with a sickening lurch I was surrounded by smoke and a half-dozen presences. Breathless and dangerously lightheaded, I collapsed against a tree and sank to the ground, head between my knees and sucking in air through clenched teeth. Wow, did that felt awful.
"I didn't think you were quite this reckless, Yukito-kun. For such a strange request, as well."
I squinted at the speaker for a long second before I recognized him –a small black cat with luminous yellow eyes, one of his ears completely missing– and then made myself sit up some and look at the rest. Oh, wow, okay. No wonder that had just about drained me—I had Summoned all the split-tailed Elders that were in any condition to leave the Realm. They were the same ones who had sent me back through the barrier to the ninneko, years ago. It would be better to get straight to the point, then, as some of them were the crotchety type.
"The Uchiha clan is going to be completely wiped out soon. In days," I told them bluntly, continuing quickly in case someone tried to cut me off. "I don't think stopping it is possible. If you can be hidden in their Compound when it starts, you can take at least some of the children home with you."
For a long minute there was silence, only the whirring of the cicadas cutting through the humid evening air as the Elders exchanged speaking glances I was too drained to decipher. Note to self: Don't try that again unless I really needed to, because flirting with chakra exhaustion just wasn't worth it.
"Someone in that Village did that to Shisui. Did you see? They took his eyes."
More silence. A sigh, repeated multiple times from the semicircle of cats before me.
"Very well, Summoner." A change in tone, edging towards concern. "How long will you be able to sustain us, child?"
I opened my eyes wearily and took a deep breath. I didn't remember being this reckless in my last life.
"As long as you need, Elders. Be safe."
And then I sank back into the tree I was seated against, perception expanding for miles between heartbeats, until it would have been so easy to lose myself—but no, I didn't like that. I reached, in and then out, my essence tangling into the trees as carefully as I could make it; they had what I needed, but they were aware enough that it would have felt wrong to simply take. Like theft. So, I asked.
Time lost meaning within the tree: I was an anchor to six tethers, an anchor sustained by and tied to the surface of the world that flowed through me. It was a dangerous balance to keep, to accept just enough chakra from the trees to continue to maintain the summoning, but to not take so much that I lost myself entirely. It was eerily dreamlike, blind-eyed but aware of an entire Village. A country, if I was but to look.
And eventually, I was made aware of someone else within the trees. Someone who could make the trees bend just as I could, but at the moment was only flitting between them. (If I was the nature spirit, maybe he was the cave spirit.)
Obito, that had to be Obito. 'Madara', for the moment. I couldn't imagine anyone else with that sort of hate festering in their chakra—not someone who had the Mokuton and could teleport, too.
It was really time, then.
I began pulling my chakra back to myself moments before the first tether snapped loose, ended by the cat it held, and then like a chain reaction, two more. Three left connected when I finally stumbled free of the tree, disoriented because I couldn't feel the Uchiha anymore and just a second ago—
A barrier. It had to be a barrier. How else could the Massacre have happened without alerting every sensor in the Village?
Another tether snapped, two left. Anxious adrenaline made me pace restlessly, senses blown wide open and body feeling stronger than perhaps it should have been after being cocooned in a tree for who-knew how long.
One tether left, and I froze with my nails dug into rough bark, cautiously eyeing the dark forest surrounding me. Something didn't feel right, but I couldn't pinpoint what.
The ground exploded with wild, gnarled roots, but I was already sprinting, flying around and over the trees, only barely able to sense the echo of fury before the next assault. A thought tinged with hysteria made itself known as the last tether snapped and I was almost caught in a cage of roots: So this is the difference, this was Obito when he was aware he had an audience. I could barely feel him even when my desperate leaps brought me into direct contact with the trees.
He was stronger than me by a truly, awfully, ridiculous amount, both in skill and pure power. I couldn't outrun him.
He would kill me, or worse, especially if he knew what I had done.
I…needed to not be here. Desperately.
The vine on my right arm sprouted wicked thorns, and as soon as the blood touched my tattoo I felt it.
Take me home!
I had no choice but to dive through a tree to avoid the most aggressive trap yet, a net followed by a wave of blistering-hot fire, and then my chakra was yanked, the world flipped and—
Home. I was home.
a/n: I wanted to let you all know that this story will soon have its own side-story! In it will be 1) Scenes that did happen but were excluded from the story for whatever reason, 2) Alternate Outsider POVs, and 3) Alternate scenes! Things that could have happened, but definitely didn't. What they are and when they did/could have taken place will be clearly marked at the beginning of each chapter. Requests for chapters will be taken in the reviews of this story, and the other once it's posted.