Author's Note: Hello my loves! Thank you for over 400 comments! You are all so sweet to me! I am so sorry for the late update, but as some of you know I got a second job and I'm - hopefully - at the tail end of a week of terrible bodily pains. For some reason I've been in horrible pain these last few days, so bad I couldn't move and couldn't stop crying. But I'm starting to feel better. So as a belated birthday present to myself, I present you with this chapter! Thank you all for your patience and I'm sorry again for the long wait! I think I'm going to keep Kagami around as a permanent fixture in this story, but let me know what you think! I hope your day is half as awesome as you are! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Warning: OOCness, unbeta'd, language.
Word Count: 5,259
"Who's Kagami?" Sakura asks Izuna once Madara has left the room. She cuddles Manmaru close to her chest, hoping that whoever this person was that he wasn't going to be a problem.
Izuna rubs the back of his neck, squinting after his brother before looking over at Sakura. "Kagami is... well, he's family."
Sakura rolls her eyes. "I could have guessed that."
Izuna looks beyond the two of them, over Sakura's head to his backyard with a curious look on his face. He's trying to decide how much he wants to say. Sakura has to guess that this has some strong family baggage attached to it. She can understand why he wouldn't be quick to want to involve her. Manmaru is his nephew but Sakura is still a stranger. She'll admit that she's curious, but she's not going to press the issue. It isn't her place, it isn't her family. If it's important enough, then she will figure it out eventually or someone will let her know.
Manmaru looks between Sakura and Izuna, contemplatively before hopping to his feet, out of Sakura's arms, and runs off after Madara.
Madara watches as the slightly older young man turns from where he's looking outside, admiring the view. His dark eyes are large and kind. His eyes find Madara immediately and he smiles. One of the most genuinely kind people that Madara has ever met. He's much like Hashirama. He genuinely wants what's best for people. He wants those around him to be happy, even if it meant sacrificing his own happiness. He would do it without a moment's hesitation. And if it was something that Madara asked for, he would do it even faster.
He was loyal to a fault like that. Madara daresay he loved this man.
Tipping his head, the slightly older man murmurs, "My lord."
"Kagami, you know you don't have to call me that," Madara says, crossing his arms over his chest.
Genuine and kind Kagami looks troubled by his words, a crease forming between two dark eyes. "I understand, my lord, but this is your home and -"
Madara holds up his hand, silencing the slightly older young man. "Exactly. Kagami, there isn't a need to be so formal. You can relax. There isn't anyone here. It's just Izuna, and he's not going to say anything. Don't worry about him."
Kagami looks sad, turning his head away for a moment, trying to decide something. Softly, trying to switch the topic without it being too obvious he wasn't acknowledging Madara's words, he asks, "Was that him? Was that Manmaru?" He doesn't dare speak too loud like someone could be listening on the other side of the door. He was going to play this game in the way that Madara wanted to. He wasn't going to push the boundaries or his luck. What did Madara do to deserve Kagami in the first place?
Madara couldn't stop the smile of pride crossing his lips as he thought of the little boy. "Yes, that was him. Cute, isn't he?"
Relieved to be talking about something else, Kagami smiles, "Yes. Very." A pause, then, "Does that mean that she's here too? Your girl?" Madara's mood plummets as his face falls. Kagami blinks a few times, catching the drastic shift in the Uchiha Patriarch's expression. His eyebrows pulled together again in confusion, wondering if perhaps he stepped on an invisible landmine that he wasn't supposed to of. Hastily, he says, "I apologize, my lord. It's none of my business."
Madara shakes his head. "I'm not mad at you, Kagami. I just... I don't want to talk about that. About her." He sighs, running a hand through his hair, pushing his fringe out of the way for a moment before it falls back into place as if it was never disturbed in the first place. He spares the other man a half glance. "The pain is... still fresh. She's... different. Not exactly the girl I remember from all those years ago... but what am I to expect? I'm not the same idiotic kid, either. She's different, but she's still Sakura. Enough is the same."
Kagami's sympathy isn't as bitter as anyone else's would have been. He's always been very fond of Kagami, as he is with Izuna, and he has to imagine that's part of the reason.
"It will figure itself out," Kagami says, nodding once as if to affirm his words. His dark eyes stare past Madara and his expression softened. Madara turns to see Manmaru peaking at him from around a corner with large, dark eyes. Manmaru looks Kagami up and down curiously with a tinge of pink on his cheeks. He rushes over to Madara, wrapping his little fingers up in fistfuls of his father's blue pants. "Hello, little one."
"Hi," Manmaru smiles.
"Manmaru," Madara says, smoothing down his son's messy black hair, "this is Kagami."
Manmaru makes a face at his father. "I know. I told you he was here, daddy, remember?"
Madara's smile is tender down at his little boy. It's a good look on his face and Kagami's smile is obvious in the corner of Madara's eye. "I know," he says, ignoring the look the older man is shining his way, "but Kagami is very important to Daddy, so be a good boy for him. If you ever need anything and you can't find Mommy, Uncle Izuna or myself, go to Kagami, he will help you."
Kagami tips his head respectfully, cheeks splashed a bit red. "It is my honor, my lord. Thank you for your kind words." He scratches the back of his head, looking around the room as if he's never seen the inside of his clan leader's home. "But I'm sure everything will be okay."
"You are my family, Kagami," Madara says. "Forget father. He is no longer clan leader, I am. My decision stands."
Kagami's eyes flash sadly. He looks down at the ground, eyebrows twitching together. "I know your creed, Madara... but..."
"Izuna understands." Madara steps closer to the other man, looking into his dark eyes with his own. "He was mad, and he's not sure how to approach you yet, but he understands. He'll come around, I promise. We've already talked about it."
A touch of vulnerability splashes across his face. "What... did he say...?"
"He's mad, understandably," Madara says, "as am I. But this isn't the end of the world. We are going to be okay. Izuna is going to build a backbone and come to talk to you. My son is going to integrate into the clan. This alliance with the Senju is going to work. We are going to build our village and we are going to be a family. I know all of this to be true. Just trust me."
Manmaru looks between them, confused, but doesn't ask. Kagami looks sad. "He doesn't have to force himself. I understand where he's coming from. This isn't something that's easy to forgive."
Madara frowns. "You didn't do anything wrong, Kagami. You aren't to blame for any of this."
He doesn't appear as though he believes that. He considers something for a moment before offering a sweet smile to Manmaru. "Please look after me, little lord." Manmaru smiles back at him, stepping up to Madara again, wrapping his arms around his father's leg.
Madara sighs, petting down his son's hair again. "Sorry, Kagami, I got off on a tangent. What were you here for?"
"Oh," Kagami says, dark eyes wide. He flushes again, looking away. "I just wanted to make sure everything was okay, my lord. You have been pushing yourself really hard these last few days, and I know that you stayed behind yesterday with Lord Senju and I was curious about whether or not you were going to see your son or not. I... may have been presumptuous about it and just came here without prompt, so I apologize."
Madara tuts, waving his hand around in dismissal. "You're fine. Thank you for coming over, Kagami. Do you want to come and meet Sakura?"
"I couldn't impose," Kagami says, shaking his head. "I don't want to overwhelm her with the wave of Uchiha that is going to come crashing into her life."
"She may be able to find solace in people she could recognize when the clan becomes overwhelming," Madara offers. "And besides, she can handle herself. She always could stand her own ground but the years that have separated us has... strengthened her more than it ever could for me." He looks down at Manmaru, but the little boy is still staring at Kagami curiously. "She's become strong enough to keep herself and a little one alive without any help from me. I'm not so certain she's going to need my help now."
Kagami's smile is genuine and kind. "Maybe not. As a child who grew up in a single parent household, it's not easy to grow up with just a mother, but you'll never meet a stronger woman in your life. My father never lifted a finger to help me," he looks up into Madara's eyes, "I am the man I am today solely because of my mother. She taught me how to be a good person and a good man. She taught me how to treat a woman, and my father, even though he wasn't really a father to me, taught me how to be a better man."
Madara frowns more. "I know..."
"But that doesn't mean a part of me didn't wish I had him in my life," Kagami admits. "You are ten times better than you think. I don't know the whole story, but I know if there was any reason that you weren't with him, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. You're here now, that's got to mean something, right?" Kagami shrugs his shoulders, looking away. "I don't know. Maybe I'm a bit biased." His dark eyes lower to Manmaru and his dark eyes sparkle a bit before he looks up at Madara again. "I should leave you to spend some quality time with your boy." He bows respectfully before turning to leave.
"Thank you for stopping by, Kagami," Madara says. "I do appreciate it."
Kagami nods, his back to Madara and Manmaru. "It's not a problem, Madara."
"Oh," Madara says, "while you're here. Can you do something for me?"
"Anything," Kagami says without hesitation.
The corner of Madara's lips quirk up a bit. "Send a messanger to Hashirama and ask him about where he would like to start scouting out our new home. Or if he has any ideas on where to settle."
Kagami shrugs his shoulders. "I can just do it."
Madara's eyebrows rise. "Are you sure?"
Kagami nods. "No reason to ask someone else to do it when I can just do it myself. I will be back as soon as I have the answers, my lord." He tips his head and turns to leave.
"Thank you, Kagami."
"Bye!" Manmaru says, waving his free hand not bound in a tight grip on Madara's shirt. Kagami looks over his shoulder at the little boy, offering a little smile to the boy before leaving. Manmaru stares off after Kagami for a moment with large, dark eyes, before smiling up at Madara. "I like him, daddy."
Madara pets down Manmaru's dark hair. "I do too."
Sakura wakes up early the next morning. She quickly kisses the little boy sleeping soundly next to her, pulling away quickly when the little boy starts to stir. She leaves the room before she can accidentally wake him up. Once in the hall, she hears the soft sound of people whispering. Sakura follows the sound to the kitchen, seeing Madara and Izuna sitting at the table with another Uchiha man that Sakura's never seen before.
But he looks like any other Uchiha Sakura's ever seen. The same pitch black eyes and black hair, but unlike the other two men in the room, his hair is short and bushy. Not quite an afro like Naruto, but longer than Kiba's hair. And he has long fringes framing the side of his face much like the legendary Fourth Hokage. Just dark. His skin is pale and through his loosely tied kimono top, Sakura can see a deep scar over his right clavical.
All three look up at her as she walks into the room. The unknown Uchiha is quick to stand, tipping his head in greeting. He spares her a half glance, noticing her shorts, bare legs and arms and ducks his head again, bowing lower. Sakura is surprised by that. Izuna, who's across the table from him scratches the back of his head and looks over at Sakura with a little shrug, while Madara, who was sitting next to the unknown Uchiha offers a little nod and a soft, "Morning."
"Good morning," Sakura says, turning her green eyes to the Uchiha. "You don't have to do that."
He flushes a bit and lowers down onto his pillow, embarrassed. Madara pats his shoulder, sympathetically as Sakura lowers herself onto the pillow next to Izuna.
"I'm Sakura Ha-," Sakura coughs, barely catching herself. She gives a show of a few coughs before saying, "Seto. Sakura Seto." That was such a close one, please let none of them notice the slip. "And you are?"
The Uchiha man raises his eyes back up to Sakura's. "It is a pleasure. I am Kagami Uchiha."
Sakura's eyebrows quirk upward toward her hairline. "Oh? The Kagami from yesterday?"
Kagami nods. "Yes, ma'am."
Sakura waves her hand dismissively. "You don't have to be so formal, Kagami-san. You're older than me and I haven't done anything to deserve your respect yet."
Kagami seems surprised by her words, dark eyes wide. "Oh, no. You are Lord Madara's..." he hesitates, sparing a half glance at Madara before changing up what he was going to say in favor of, "You are little Lord Manmaru's mother. As he is the recognized heir of the clan - or he will be soon enough - as his mother, you are deserving of respect for that. But you don't have to prove your merit to me, Lady Sakura. I am not to say the worth of others. That is for the gods to say, not us mere mortals."
That must not be a common belief amongst the Uchiha because the last time she was here, pregnant with Madara's child, they were perfectly alright with telling her exactly what they thought of her and her supposed 'merits' or lack thereof. But to see someone who is so blatantly open is refreshing. He's kinda a mix between Shikamaru and Choji. Logical like Shikamaru, but really nice about it, like Choji.
This makes her miss her friends, but she quickly forces the thoughts away.
"Well..." Sakura says slowly, offering a small smile to the other man. He's around Madara's age, and it's hard to tell if he's older or younger just by appearance alone. And maturity-wise, they are both very adult-like. "Thank you." She looks between the three Uchiha in the room. "So, can I ask what's going on?"
"Nothing much," Izuna says easily, leaning the side of his head onto his hand propped up on the table. "Kagami was just reporting to Madara about Hashirama's ideas about where to settle the clans."
"Oh?" Sakura says easily, her heart jumping at the thought of Konoha. She may not be able to go home to her Konoha, but the prospect of at least being able to see a Konoha of some sort is too tempting to simply ignore. "Anything good?"
Madara huffs, annoyed, handing a piece of paper over the table to her. Sakura takes it and looks at it. "Aww! Manmaru drew this?" She twists it around a bit, trying to make out the indecernable scribble on it. "Um, what is it?"
Izuna laughs while Madara looks amused. "Hashirama did that. Not my five-year-old son."
"Oh," Sakura squints at it. "Um, what is it again?"
"Our new home," Kagami says. "Those were his words."
Sakura squints at the page harder, trying to distinguish the shapes within the black inked blob, but her brain isn't registering anything helpful. "It... uh, doesn't look all that bad..."
"It looks like a swirling vortex into the unknown," Izuna mutters with a grin. "Haunted by the damned weighed down by the sins of their past."
Madara rolls his eyes while Kagami smiles at that. "Either way, that fool has managed to make me have to choose between just trusting him - which is against my better judgment - or just going out the way out there myself and asking him what this atrocious drawing is supposed to be in person. And hit him if I don't like the answer." A pause. "I might just hit him for this alone." He gestures toward the piece of paper in Sakura's hand.
Sakura lets out a little laugh. "Alright. Well, good luck with that."
"But otherwise," Madara says, good mood falling away. "I've decided to tell the elders today. As much as I want to spend time with Manmaru without interference from anyone else, Kagami showing up yesterday made me realize that had anyone else just done that, this would be complete chaos. At least if I'm at the forefront of it, I can try to control the raging bull before it flies off the handle."
Sakura nods. "Okay." If he thought that was wise, she wasn't going to question it. It's his family, not hers. He would know best.
"I would like for you to come with," Madara says. "As Manmaru's mother, and in light to how they treated you before, I would like to show them a united front between us both. Their treatment of you before was completely unacceptable, even if you were lying, they had no right to treat you like that. It would please me to have them apologize to their heir's mother."
Sakura grins at him. The small, petty part of her liked the idea too and was happy to see Madara was completely on board with teaching odd assholes to respect people regardless of their circumstances. "I can handle myself, I don't need an apology."
"I know you can handle yourself," Madara says, eyeing her up and down for a moment, a strange look crossing his face before it quickly vanishes. "And I also know you don't need an apology, but they need to apologize. It wasn't right what they did and they have to own up to it."
"They are going to just love that," Izuna mutters, raising an eyebrow.
"So, with your permission," Madara says, "I would like for you to accompany myself and Izuna to the elders so that we can talk about this."
"And Manmaru?" Sakura asks. "What about him?"
"I would like Kagami to stay here with him until we get back. He shouldn't be there for this part. Once they've been put into their place, then he can meet them. They'll be more... accepting that way." Madara's words are smooth and easy, but she doesn't miss his phrasing in the slightest. Put into their place sounds like Madara anticipates an antagonistic response from them. Which is both good and bad. Good that he's going into this completely prepared for the worst-case scenario, but bad because if they are willing to oppose their clan leader outright about his own son, what will everyone else do?
Sakura didn't mind going with Madara and Izuna, but she wasn't a fan of leaving Manmaru with a complete stranger. Her weariness must have shown on her face, because Kagami says, easily, "It would be my honor, my Lady. He will be right as rain for when you return. I promise."
"You don't have to worry about Kagami," Izuna says as soon as Madara opens his mouth in defense of the Uchiha next to him. Both of the two oldest in the room seemed surprised by his words. "Kagami is family. He won't let anything happen to Manmaru. And we won't be gone long, especially if all the elders have a collective aneurysm I'm expecting them to have." He offers a quirky smile. "In and out, like that."
Madara is staring at Izuna curiously, while Kagami is looking down at his lap with a tiny smile.
"It'll be okay," Madara finally says, when he catches the look on Sakura's face, who isn't completely convinced. "I promise."
"If you say so," Sakura relents, giving Kagami a good memorizing look. She'll be able to pick him out of a line up of clones if something happens to her son while she's away.
Sakura decided to let Manmaru sleep in. Hoping, probably naively, that he will sleep through this meeting and will still be asleep once she returns so she doesn't have to worry about anything, but this Kagami has Madara's full trust and Izuna doesn't seem to have any sort of issue with him, so she has to accept that Kagami can't be bad to have around her son if both the boy's uncle and father endorse him.
She just can't help but fidget and spare a backward glance at the house before letting Madara and Izuna drag her through the collection of homes that make up the Uchiha clan. She's never seen this many Uchiha in one place before. She was so young when the Uchiha of her time were massacred that she barely remembers any of them aside from Sasuke and his older brother, Itachi. And Obito, later on, made himself very well known. And Madara was very memorable too. Okay, then. Still, more than she's known in her time.
The day starts early for warring clans, as so many people have already piled out of their homes and are milling about running errands. Women have split between making breakfast for the family, doing chores around the camp, and watching the children, while the men are running back and forth with patrols, assisting in chores and being ordered around by the women, and standing guard of the camp.
Sakura has her cloak on but the hood is down. The look Kagami gave her earlier reminded her just how underdressed she is for this time. While Ino has always been far more underdressed than her in all instances, this time is so much more different from her own. All of the Uchiha women are decked out in kimonos of some sort the shortest of which being on children. Their sleeves only rolled up to do tasks like preparing food or doing laundry where they would otherwise be a hindrance.
She's going to have to remember that. She never noticed any of the other times she has removed her cloak, with Madara, Izuna, Tobirama, and Hashirama, but that was all in the heat of the moment. In the battle with those puppets, she's not sure any of them noticed and yesterday she didn't even think to see if Izuna or Madara were embarrassed by the way she was dressed.
Which is kind of funny when she thought about it.
Showing a little skin on her legs was enough to make a man melt? Pfft. She was born in the right era. She can't imagine dressing in kimonos each and every day having to be thoughtful of not showing off too much of her ankles and Kami forbid her knees! Yes, she is going to have to adjust to this place more than she thought she was going to have to.
Because they are so close-knit, and everyone is family, Sakura stands out like a sore thumb amongst all the tall, beautiful dark haired Uchiha women. Standing between two tall men like Madara - who, as their clan leader no doubt drew attention wherever he went - and Izuna, made her appear smaller than she was, and her hair is a bright, pastel pink. She is definitely a distraction.
And the Uchiha can spot someone who doesn't belong from a mile away, it seems. Which isn't very comforting. Surprise, surprise!
All the Uchiha that they pass just stop and stare blatantly. She is an obvious stranger in their home, walking alongside their clan leader and heir - as far as they know, Izuna is still heir until his brother has children or announces a secret love child with a girl outside the clan as his heir - makes her more curious, but at least they aren't openly hostile. Probably having Madara walking so close to her relieves them that she is no threat. At least not now.
That didn't mean that Sakura didn't feel like a freak walking through this camp with everyone staring at her in confusion, curiosity, and weariness. They are at peace with the Senju and their allies, but it's fresh and old habits die hard. Besides that, the world is a dangerous place and no one should just be outwardly trusted. Even in Sakura's time, simple trust could be a death sentence.
Sakura has to remember that applies for every time in every timeline. Sakura has to wonder if trust was what got Sakura Seto killed? Either way, she's not going to risk Manmaru's life on blind faith. She can look after herself, but she won't risk his.
"They are all staring," Sakura mutters, leaning in closer to Madara.
"Ignore them," Madara says easily.
Sakura rolls her eyes. "Easy for you to say. You probably make a living out of ignoring looks people give you."
Izuna snorts. "Mostly looks of contempt and annoyance, aye brother?" He grins over Sakura's head at the clan leader. Madara doesn't appear amused by that. He turns dark eyes at his fellow clansmen, not challenging, but it's enough for them to start tipping their heads respectfully as they pass.
"What do you mean?" Sakura asks Izuna for the sake of her curiosity, seeing as Madara wasn't going to play along.
Izuna folds his hands behind his head as they walk. "You'll see for yourself, but let's just say, Madara isn't exactly popular with the elders because of his opinions. I don't think I've seen so many old men all wish for the death of a single person since we learned Hashirama was literally God."
Sakura snorts, amused, while Madara actually smiles. He looks amused, grinning over at his brother. "You're right."
Izuna laughs, twisting a bit to crack his back while keeping his hands folded behind his head. "I know I am. I think this is a good thing for me, though, Manmaru becoming your heir."
Curiously, Madara asks, "How so?"
"Now they can't look at me exasperatedly like I might be the second worse thing to happen to the clan for supporting you, but at least I'm not you," Izuna laughs. Madara joins him, dark eyes sparkling. His laugh is low and quiet but very appealing to the ear. Sakura has to smile at that despite the spike of worry in her chest for their future because it seems like Izuna and Madara have been fighting the elders of their clan for so long, the opposition doesn't even bother them anymore. It will teach Manmaru to hold strong to his beliefs even if old war hawks disagree.
Especially seeing as Madara's ideals have all been something Sakura can stand behind as far as she can see. Hopefully, Manmaru will grow up with strong convictions and a good eye on what's right and wrong. All Sakura can do is hope that she, Madara, and his environment can foster that.
"So, what's the game plan when we get there?" Izuna asks.
"Tell them the truth and then do damage control," Madara says simply.
Sakura and Izuna share exasperated looks. "Okay," Sakura says. "And if that blows up in our faces?"
Madara sighs. "Trust me when I say this, ever since I first saw Manmaru I've been wondering how I was going to bring this up to the elders in a way where it wouldn't cause a monumental meltdown and just short of that collective aneurysm that Izuna was talking about, I'm not sure anything will prevent it. We are just going to have the bandage be ripped off and then try to control the bleeding until it's done."
Izuna lets out a whooshing sigh, "You took that analogy all the way to its conclusion, didn't you?"
"I could have gone more in-depth," Madara offers.
"Yeah," Sakura says, "he could have said, 'have the bandage be ripped off and then try to control the bleeding until the blood starts to clot and the wound scabs over and the flesh is healed beneath' or something along those lines and it still would have meant the same thing." Both brothers look at her. "What?"
"How do you know that?" Izuna asks.
"Oh," Sakura says, realizing that she hasn't had to really do anything shinobi-like in front of the two of them other than the very basics that she's sure Madara or Hashirama, or both taught Sakura Seto, like jumping, chakra control, and walking on trees and water. "I'm a medical shinobi."
Both stare at her in awe, barely remembering to keep walking. They were still her guides through the camp.
"For real?" Izuna asks.
"Like Hashirama?" Madara asks a breath later.
Sakura nods. "Mostly. I mean, I don't channel it through woodstyle as he does, but yeah. I know medical ninjutsu. I'm actually very good at it. It's one of my specialties."
Both men stare at her in surprise and curiosity. Sakura knows that in her time an amazing medical ninjutsu specialist is hard to come by and she was trained by the best, but in this time, as far as she knew, medical ninjutsu was made famous by and used by only one person, Hashirama Senju. Now she's sure that other people probably know how to use it, but he was the one that made it famous, and Sakura had to guess that there wasn't a lot of Uchiha who knew how to do it and if they did, do it well.
Madara nods to himself once, twice, three times, before he says, as they continue toward the largest buildings in the camp. "Remind me to ask you more about that later."
Sakura shrugs her shoulders. "Sure thing. For now, the elders."
Madara sighs, looking annoyed. "Yes. For now, the elders."