Lead character(s): Sasuke
Pairing(s): No pairing - Team 7 bond. In a way that's better than sex. (yeah, can't believe I said that either XP )
Genre: Sasuke introspection, one-shot.
Notes: This was, of course, born from that short scene in the middle of ep 80 when they're going to the Third's burial, and just happen to take the same path.
Yes, I actually meant not to use names at all. Just think about it. :p

There were a few inescapable truths in his world. Two only, in fact.

One was that his brother would die by his hand.

The other was that they would follow him.

They were truths he had refused at some point. Had denied. Had raged against. Had tried to twist, or ignore, or purposefully misunderstand.

He loved his brother. He hated his brother. He would kill him.

He was a part of them. They were a part of him. They would come.

The awareness of the first truth had been clear since day one, since the betrayal. The second had taken more time to bloom inside him. Time and time again he had tried to uproot it; but it wouldn't die, and even neglect didn't wither it. It kept growing back; her tenderness and his tenacity, making themselves at home in a corner of his soul.

He'd only acknowledged it once. Not in words. After that war, and so many deaths, after being forced to realize that she would die rather than step aside and abandon him defenseless, that he would keep fighting until no one could threaten them again. After being made to see that he would do the same, even if it meant dirtying himself with a power that took great delight in corrupting almost everything he was.

Almost. Because the truth inside his heart kept blooming back, again and again, and it was the only thing inside him that couldn't be tarnished.

And so he had told them; not in words. Words were meaningless. Clad in mourning back, he had told them that yeah, okay, he acknowledged it finally; they should be standing by his side. Because they would be there anyway, regardless.

See? I'm waiting for you.

He had denied it afterwards; thought that the first truth would consume anything in its path. He did not want to see them consumed with everything else, with him. He had hurt them to punish himself, to prove to himself that the second truth was a comforting lie, that he clung to because he was too weak for the first one.

But he was, or would be, strong enough to kill his brother, and they did belong with him.

And so, his hand on the hilt of a sword that had been planted through his snake of a master's heart, the mark dead on his neck, he walked toward his first truth, while waiting for his second truth to catch up. Because both were inescapable.

Two years, eight months. He'd cut it close, but it didn't matter. They wouldn't be long now.

There were two inescapable truths in his world.

One was that his brother would die by his hand.

The other was that they would follow him.

He could not stop them, and he could not discourage them - and he did not want to. The safest place for them was at his side; it was where they belonged.

He could not stop them, and they would only need the barest encouragement - not a word necessary, just a short pause in his steps - and...

Two sets of footsteps. Memories of laughter. Warmth. Acceptance. Belonging.

He paused, head tilted, not turning back.

See? I'm waiting for you.

I'm waiting.