Author's Note: Okay my loves, I know you all hate me and no one is talking to me anymore, but I would love to thank all of you for your support. I hit a bit of a rut with this story - and a few others - and had to step away for a while. I know it has been a long wait between chapters and I really am sorry for it. 2,200 reviews are more than I ever could have asked for, so thank you for the kind words and support all this time. With everything going on in the world these last few weeks I wanted this chapter to focus more on positivity and the love between brothers. Let me know what you think! Stay safe out there everyone! I love you all! Enjoy!
Sakura was left unable to sleep for the rest of the night. She fought with herself on what she should do with this new information before deciding that, while it was interesting and maybe a missing piece to something, it wasn't going to change anything that she knows of now. So, all she can do is tuck that bit of information away for later and hope that if she'll for some reason need it, she'll remember it again.
But it does make her wonder how this could all be. Maybe, in some twisted way, this person was the reason that everything seems designed to make Madara look bad could be because his son made it so. Which is so much worse than a lot of elements coming into play, but his own son orchestrating things from behind the scene. Honestly, Sakura didn't know that Madara had a son. From what she knew, Madara never had any children, that Sasuke's family line came from his younger brother Izuna.
At least, that was what Sakura thought. She doesn't remember how she knows that, though it's probably something she learned reading Hashirama's diaries, it was just a little tidbit of information that she remembered a few years later. Still, how could so much of their more recent history be so wrong? She can't believe how inaccurate their history is when only a little over eighty years separate then from her present.
Then again, seeing as this isn't really her past, just the closest version of it that Naruto and Sasuke could find - apparently - could mean that maybe there wasn't as much overlap. Maybe she's just not seeing the two timelines as separately as she should.
She lays in bed the rest of the night just trying to wrap her mind around everything that she knows. As far as she can tell, just from what she's been getting from the people around her, that they don't really know much about what happened. Other than Kakashi, Sasuke, and Naruto. Oh, and Sakura. If and when Sakura remembers everything, she isn't sure that it's going to be magical and wonderous. Sure, remembering everything is going to be important, but at the same time, it probably won't have a lot to do with what is going on around her at this very moment.
It's all good to know, and important to know too, but at the same time, it's everything happening in the now that is paramount. So as much as she wants to know, she can also rationalize that it won't change anything. Knowing that the Madara of her time's son is the one that attacked them during the Fourth Great Ninja War won't do anything to help them now. It's interesting to know and maybe it'll be important for later, but for now, it's not. If it truly was important and had to be figured out, Kakashi would have said something to her. He wouldn't have just pretended that nothing was happening.
If it's able to wait on, then they will. So as much as she wants to know, she'll just have to wait until things settle down around her. As much as it is killing her, she has to let it go for now and focus on the stuff going on around her right now. There are other things that require her attention that is so much more important and worthy of her time.
The next morning Sakura sought out her Master in order to get her view on how to perform the surgery that Madara and Izuna were asking of her. The complexities of it weren't too difficult but Sakura hadn't done anything like it before. Her Master was able to talk her through it and honestly, it wasn't too different from what she was expecting. She was just getting too into her own head.
It was nice being able to sit down and just talk to her Master. Tsunade always had a way of making Sakura forget about her insecurities. Sakura knew that she was a good medical shinobi and doctor, but it always made her feel better to be validated by the woman that she looked up to most in the world. Sakura could figure out how to perform the surgery just by her own knowledge but it was a relief to have Tsunade there, talking her through the process. Tsunade hadn't performed surgery on two Uchiha to switch their eyes around, but she has fixed damage done to them and remembered well what the inner workings of their eyes and what they looked like.
Tsunade offered her invaluable insight and even offered some tips and things to look out for.
"Uchiha have amazing sight," Tsunade had told her. "But despite their legendary sight, they are susceptible to a slew of terrible eye diseases. The usage of their Sharingan also allows for a form of cataracts to cloud their vision until they are blind. The Mangekyo does this far faster than their regular Sharingan, from what I understand. Make sure to keep an eye on that while you're working and for when they start to try and use them."
Sakura thanked her Master before heading back out to the clinic to help out.
Once that long, tedious day was over with, she sought out Madara and Izuna. She found the later on his way back from a late afternoon training session with Tobirama. The two have become quite close these last few weeks. She's happy for them.
"Howdy, gentlemen," she says, falling in step between the two taller men. They separate far enough for her to fit.
"Sakura," Tobirama greets, tipping his head a bit.
"Hey," Izuna says, rolling his shoulder like he hurt it, or somehow hurt it. "What's going on?"
"I wanted to talk to you and your brother about what we talked about yesterday," Sakura says, looking the younger of the two men curiously. "Are you okay? Do you want me to take a look at that?"
Izuna sends her a sideways look, lips pressed together in a thin line. "No thanks, mom, I'm fine." Then a thought seems to have occurred to him, and his smile turns wolfish, "Although, I did manage to hit Tobirama in the face a few hours ago that he's not healing gracefully from, I'm sure. And I don't need good eyesight to know that it's horrendous to look at."
Sakura snorts before looking over at the side of Tobirama's head that she can see, noticing quite obvious that he wasn't looking at her head-on. She purses her lips a bit before reaching up to cup his chin and turn it toward her a bit. Sakura whistles at the sight of it. "Wow, he got you good. A nice shiner you got there." She lifts her hand a bit to run her fingers across his cheekbone to make sure the blackening there wasn't because his cheekbone was broken. Thankfully it didn't appear like that.
Izuna laughs as Sakura pulls her hand away. "I'm not back to where I was before, so even I was surprised I got such a good shot in."
Tobirama rolls his eyes, frowning deeply. "It won't happen again."
"I'm nearly blind, Tobirama, for your pride's sake, you'd best hope so," Izuna laughs again, shaking his head. "Maybe if you ask nicely Sakura-sensei will heal it up and kiss it better."
Sakura glares through a flushed expression while Tobirama throws daggers with his eyes over the top of her head at the Uchiha heir as he folds his arms behind his head in an attempt to look nonchalant. He flinches slightly at the pain in his shoulder that was no doubt retaliation for the good hit he got in earlier and Sakura doesn't even feel slightly bad for him now.
She looks over at Tobirama. "Would you like for me to take a look at your eye?"
Tobirama shakes his head. "No, it'll be fine. I've been hit harder. I was just caught off guard."
Izuna clicks his tongue, rolling his eyes before looking away. "Joking aside, what would you like to talk about again? You said yesterday?" He looks back over at her, eyebrows pulling together tightly. "Oh? About our eyes?"
Sakura nods. "Yeah, I spoke with my master, and she told me what I was expecting. If it's something that you're interested in doing, I'm willing to help however I can."
Izuna's expression brightens, lighting up like the sun. Then Izuna does something that surprises her. He turns to her, grabs her by the shoulders, and hugs her tightly. Sakura blinks a few times, stunned frozen for a moment with her chin and mouth buried in Izuna's shoulder before she relaxes, returning the hug in kind.
"This is so sweet of you," Sakura says softly, hoping he doesn't take it as patronizing because she really does think so. For as much as he looks like Sasuke, Izuna couldn't be more different.
"I know what you said," Izuna says quietly, "and I know that this might all be for naught, but I need you to know how much I appreciate you. Thank you for always being there for us, Sakura. I know Madara feels the same as I do. Thank you."
Sakura locks her hands around Izuna's waist, giving it a heartfelt squeeze before pulling back. She hums pleased, her heart warmed in happiness at the thought. She really loved these guys, and she hears herself saying, "We're friends, Izuna. And love means that we are there for each other. You don't have to be family or love someone romantically to love them and want to help them."
Izuna squeezes her arms tightly, before pulling back completely. "Our times have less than a hundred years that separate them, yet we view the world so differently." He shakes his head in disbelief. "Thank you, Sakura. I mean it. Madara will be happy to hear as well."
Sakura smiles at him. "I'm glad. I hope that everything works out how we hope. At the very least, I hope that you get your sight back."
Izuna's smile is boyish and sweet, despite the distance and somewhat unfocused look in Izuna's eyes. "Thank you." He lets out a big sigh, flushing slightly in embarrassment as they are on the open road - even if they were the only ones in immediate sight - and Tobirama was less than two feet away from them, watching the exchange silently with a neutral expression. "Well, I'd better go home and talk to Madara. I'm sure there are a few more things that we'll have to discuss before we move forward, so I'll head out. Thanks again, Sakura!"
Sakura waves after the blue-haired young man as he speeds off toward the Uchiha's side of the village, no doubt ready to hunt Madara down where ever he might be.
"What was that all about?" Tobirama asks.
Sakura looks over at him. "There might be a way to help Izuna get his sight back. It was something we talked about back when he was still injured if you recall. Madara and Izuna want to try switching each other's eyes and hope that it will grant Izuna - and by extension Madara - the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan and heal the damage done to their eyes."
Tobirama nods slowly in thoughtful contemplation while Sakura stares at him. Just a few short months ago, Tobirama had been wary about this exact thing. Given, Sakura probably didn't phrase it right and probably made him worry more than was necessary - so she's at fault for that - but he no longer seems as worried as before. There is a hint of hesitation in his eyes from years of conditioned response but Sakura is honestly impressed by how far they've come in such a short amount of time.
Despite the shiner starting on his right eye, there was something beautifully peaceful and serene about his expression that warmed Sakura's heart. He turns his head a bit, offering Sakura his strong profile. His eyes lower to the dirt, his long white lashes - that she would literally kill for - touching the top of his cheekbones every time that he blinked.
"It's not fair," Sakura sighs, drawing his intense red eyes over to her curiously.
"What isn't?" He asks.
Sakura laughs, brushing some of her fringe behind her ears a bit, blushing a bit. "You guys have such wonderful eyelashes. I'm jealous." Sakura sighs woefully. "I mean, honestly, such pretty things are wasted on you guys, you don't care enough for them."
Tobirama looks mildly amused. "Oh?"
"Yeah," Sakura bemoans. "Long, thick lashes, silky hair, pretty eyes..." She shakes her head. "You guys are so lucky and you don't even care."
Tobirama huffs softly, closing his eyes for a moment while shaking his head before opening them and looking back over at her. "I don't understand anything about that, but I think your envy is misplaced. You're beautiful."
Sakura stares at him for a moment, blinking for a second before flushing slightly. She rubs her hands together, trying desperately not to think about the butterflies in her stomach. She has to fight the urge to think that he was trying to say something that she knows he probably isn't. Sakura has never been good at seeing people's feelings for her at face value. She loved Sasuke who could never love her back, while Naruto and Lee both showed peripheral interest in her and she couldn't bring herself to love them the same.
It isn't like that with Tobirama. He's... different. He's stoic and protective, but he's also kind and capable... and he just makes Sakura happy. She enjoyed their time together and he's always making her nervous. And not in a bad way. It the way that sometimes he can be so intense that she doesn't know how to breathe or think straight and looking into those beautiful red eyes makes her forget where she is or what she's doing, and she's not used to it. Sasuke never made her feel this way.
There were times, brief moments when Sakura's happiness with Sasuke was genuine, but there were almost moments where Sakura would look back on them and realize that she was happy only because she was foolish. It wasn't Sasuke's fault that she got happy and misunderstood on her own, but a part of her foolish wants to blame him even though she knew that it wasn't nice. He wasn't intentionally leading her on in any regard, she was the one who was looking for something that wasn't there.
Now Sakura doesn't know how to trust herself. She's never full-blown crushed on someone else other than Sasuke. She's seen some beautiful men in her time, but no one had been like Sasuke. Sakura was so consumed by her desire for him, she's not sure anymore if she genuinely had romantic feelings for him all along or if she had, at some point, simply been obsessed with the idea of him. With the idea that such a beautiful boy could love someone like her. Someone who even now is riddled with insecurities.
Sakura isn't naive enough to think that she's the only one to feel this way, nor does she think she has to hold herself to a higher standard because she's the heroine of her own story. She just thinks that she's got to be more cautious and aware of her actions and her surroundings. No doubt she made Sasuke's life miserable in her own way all these years. And she's felt bad about it.
So now that she's feeling this attraction to Tobirama, she's got herself freaked out. Surely this is all in her own head. The stories she used to hear about Tobirama Senju was his... um, promiscuous ways with women, and while Sakura has seen absolutely no evidence of that, it doesn't mean that, even if it were true, that she could be the object of his affections. He's of strong, noble blood from a powerful clan with a long history and a titan of a man who has this bright future that now is full of even more endless possibilities.
Is it wrong for Sakura to hope that maybe... just maybe the person that she's interested in might be genuinely interested in her too?
"Thank you for saying that," Sakura mumbles, her face flushed as she looks down at their shoes. She could understand why people would think he's a ladies' man. He's too pretty with those beautiful red eyes and snowy white hair.
She can feel his eyes burrowing into the top of her head. For as pretty as he is, he intimidates the heck out of her.
"I'm sorry," Tobirama says, drawing her eyes back up to him.
"I made you uncomfortable just then," Tobirama says, frowning as if disappointed in himself. "I'm sorry. That wasn't my intention."
Sakura laughs, surprised. "I'm not uncomfortable!" Well, not in a bad way. But of course, nothing gets past the legendary Second Hokage and his piercing, intense gaze. "Well, I mean, it's okay. It was very sweet of you to say. You don't have to apologize, I'm just not used to the compliments."
Tobirama frowns more at that as if he wasn't sure how that was possible and Sakura appreciates how highly he thinks of her. "I... understand. But I do apologize if I did make you feel uncomfortable."
"You didn't," Sakura assures him, offering a soft smile. "But thank you for caring enough to be conscientious about it."
Tobirama takes her out to one of the little shops to eat on the little bench out front. They just watched people walking through the streets. They talk through to the evening about anything and everything. Sakura explains what she's planning to do with Izuna and Madara and he tells her about their plans to structure the new Konoha. Hashirama and Madara are still hoping to have a Hokage to lead them - which Sakura's people agreed to.
Apparently, the two sides came to the agreement that once the time was right, they would hold elections from both sides and agree on one singular Hokage to rule over all of them. And they would hold a small council of advisors from both sides to assist the Hokage in the transition and offer guidance. Hashirama wanted it to be fair and that felt like to him, the fairest way to go about it. Until the village was on its feet and able to decide on who exactly would rule it, the council of clan leaders would run it until then.
Sakura knows who she is going to vote for, but she'll hold her tongue until the time is right. She's just glad that everyone is working so well together and trying their best to make this integration as seamless as humanly possible.
It was once the evening rolled around that Izuna and Madara finally approached her. Tobirama took that time to bid farewell and head off for the night, tipping his head a bit to the two Uchiha brothers before leaving.
"I spoke with Hashirama," Madara says, shuffling his feet slightly before forcing himself to stop and look at Sakura. "He said that he would be able to hold down the fort while Izuna and I go through this."
"I should hope so," Sakura says jokingly. "It should only take a few hours for the surgery itself and then I'd want the two of you to keep your eyes bandaged up for a few hours more just to make sure that they have time to heal, but if everything goes well, you shouldn't be out for more than a day or two."
Izuna perks up a bit in surprise. "Really? You think we'll be back to normal in a day or two?"
"You understandably don't know this, but my sensei, Kakashi, he lost his eye as a young teen and had it transferred in the middle of wartime with his Uchiha teammate at the time," Sakura says slowly, tucking a loose strand of pink hair behind her ear. "From what I understand, she transferred it in a dark cave and he went to utilize the eye immediately afterward."
"Okay..." Madara says slowly, sharing a glance with Izuna for a moment before looking back at Sakura.
"I didn't know after sensei no longer had the eye that he used to suffer massive, horrible headaches from it. Now, that could have been from quite a few different factors; him not being an Uchiha, therefore not compatible with the eye. Um, the fact that he didn't give himself time to adjust to the eye after the initial transfer - if that would even help. And the chance that it wasn't implanted correctly," Sakura says, shrugging her shoulders. "I'm not sure, but I just don't want the two of you to go through any of that. Nevermind the fact that he couldn't turn off the Sharingan."
"Hopefully we won't have those issues," Izuna says slowly, looking pensive as if worried Sakura was talking herself out of helping them.
"I hope not," Sakura agrees. "That's why you guys are going to take a few hours to adjust to having the other's eyes in your head, and once we know if you can see well, then we'll test the Sharingans. Deal?"
"Deal," the brothers say in unison.
Sakura smiles at them, relieved when Madara smiles lightly back and Izuna's smile is soft, worried, but hopeful. "Okay guys, get some sleep, alright? We'll get started first thing tomorrow morning."
The following morning, Sakura, Shizune, Salma, and Aya all gather together in the Uchiha Patriarch, and heir's house to perform the surgery seeing as the clinic is filled up and there really wasn't anywhere else that they could safely perform it. Then again, Kakashi managed to survive without infection in a cave during the war, so she wasn't super concerned. But they did spend an hour clearing out the room and sterilizing it the best they could given their limited supplies and options.
The brothers helped out and Hashirama showed up not too long after. Sakura knew that he would be there. Despite it all, Hashirama would be there to support Madara through it all. Plus, he was one of the most potent healing chakra Sakura has ever seen, so it was good to have him there. Not that Sakura suspected that they would need it, but it was nice to know that if every astrological event occurred and all the stars aligned at the right time and they did need him, he was there.
Plus Madara's anxiety over the situation seemed to have eased up with Hashirama being there. Despite the soft smiles that he would offer Izuna all morning, Hashirama made him smile for real. Even if it was small. Sakura could tell that he appreciated having his best friend there with him.
It took a few hours, as Sakura figured that it would have, to remove both of their eyes and transfer them into the head of the opposite brother. Hashirama ended up being instrumental as he was able to use his potent nature chakra - the poison that makes up his chakra and use it as a form of anesthesia that kept both brothers asleep the whole time.
Honestly, Hashirama hadn't known that he could do it until he was talking with Tsunade a few days ago, just trying to get to know his blood granddaughter, and they got to talking about medicine. She explained all sorts of amazing technologies and techniques that they had, and off-handedly mentioned Ino having the ability to do something similar with her poison-based chakra. Hashirama has similar chakra, able to seamlessly change it between healing and poison on will alone, and figured he could do it too.
So then his happy ass went to find Ino, and she helped him figure it out. And like with all things, those who practiced the skills could go an inch, Hashirama could go a mile. No matter what it was, he just always seems to be so good at whatever he tries his hand at, it seems. It would be super annoying if he wasn't so sweet about everything. When he realized he could do this and help his people and his best friend in specific, he was so humbled and thankful that he promised to make sure Ino knew how much he appreciated her time.
Sakura absolutely loved Hashirama. She supposed he was considered the God of the Shinobi for a reason.
Hashirama stayed alert and focused the whole time, not wanting to risk Izuna's or Madara's health by being lax. He adopted that serious look on his face that said he meant business, and watch with laser focus the whole time. Watching Sakura and the girls work as well as mentally scanning the two sleeping brothers' bodies with his chakra every few seconds to ensure that they were still doing okay.
Once it was all done with, Hashirama pulled back and they sat around, talking and monitoring until the Uchiha brothers came to. Sakura had wrapped up their eyes to hopefully help them adjust and wasn't surprised to hear that both of them were suffering headaches through the fog of thought because of Hashirama's chakra in their systems.
It didn't take long for both of them to go back to sleep, still feeling the drag of Hashirama's chakra and Sakura and Hashirama remained behind to monitor them while the girls went home for the day and Shizune went back to work.
Sakura and Hashirama sat around for a few hours talking, pausing only when Hashirama left to go grab food for all of them. By the time he came back, Izuna was stirring and Madara was already sitting up and lucid. As they ate and talked, Izuna came back to life more and more until he was like normal. Anxious, worried, and excited - like Madara - but normal.
"How do you guys feel?" Sakura asks, looking between the two brothers.
"Good," they say, then glance in the direction of the other, before realizing neither could see through the bandages.
Sakura laughs, shaking her head. "How about your heads? Aches and pains?"
"No," Madara says, sounding surprised. "It did hurt earlier, but not anymore. Other than perhaps a gentle throb in the front of my head, behind my forehead. I feel good, otherwise."
Sakura nods, looking over at Izuna as he admits, "Yeah, my headache isn't nearly as bad as it was earlier. I feel it in my forehead" but it's also a long steady throb."
"Okay," Sakura says, "well, you'll have to let me know if it gets worse. For now, are the two of you ready to get those off?"
Izuna's body tenses up. His lips press together tightly into a thin line as he suddenly looks nervous. "Are you sure we're good?"
"Izuna..." Madara says slowly as Hashirama casts a worried look unseen by the two brothers to Sakura.
She smiles, understanding why Izuna was worried. It's got to be hard to lose one's sight. As slowly, over time, everything just blurs out more and more until it's nearly gone. The thought of going through all of this and getting his hopes up only to possibly never get his sight back is both terrifying and cruel. Sakura doesn't blame him for being worried.
"You'll be okay. We're right here," Sakura says softly, grabbing onto his hand and gripping it tightly for a moment. "We'll start with Madara, okay? We'll give you a moment to gather yourself."
"Okay..." Izuna mumbles but squeezes her hand back before she pulls away and helps pull the bandages off of Madara's head.
His eyes are closed for a moment before he lets out a slow sigh and opens them, blinking quickly from the light filtering in from the window as the sun starts to set. He blinks a few times more before looking around the room, stopping when his eyes land on Izuna, and smiles. So soft, so loving, he says, scooting until he's sitting directly in front of his little brother, "Take the bandages off, Izuna. It'll be okay."
Izuna hesitates for a moment, hands trembling slightly before he reaches up and pulls the bandages off. His eyes are closed tightly for a moment as Izuna builds up the courage to open them. He sucks in a deep breath, holds it for about five seconds before opening his eyes and letting out the breath. He shuts them immediately, flinching. He reaches up with his hands toward his face and Sakura barely gets her warning of "Don't rub your eyes, Izuna" out before he touches soft flesh under his eyes, pressing into them slightly to alleviate the pressure.
"What do you see?" Hashirama asks softly as Izuna opens his eyes again blinking quickly as he tries to adjust to what he's seeing.
There are a few moments of baited silence as Izuna's eyebrows pull together and he stares at his brother sitting in front of him, blinking slower now as he takes in the view. He stares back at Madara a moment more before his nostrils flare and his eyes start to well up with tears. Relief washes over his pale, tired face as he stares at the face of his beloved older brother, who was smiling back so softly and with so much love with absolute clarity for the first time in a long time, as tears slide down his cheeks and he whispers, "My brother. I see the face of my big brother."