|Things as They Are
Author: alolha123 PM
Sasuke wakes up in a different universe. It resembles his old world, except that he has switched places with Naruto. However, soon he finds that this new world is nothing like his old one... AU, timetravel, gen. In the process of revision.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Friendship - Sasuke U. & Naruto U. - Chapters: 20 - Words: 68,516 - Reviews: 501 - Favs: 323 - Follows: 373 - Updated: 11-15-08 - Published: 11-15-07 - id: 3893043
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: Sasuke wakes up in a different universe. It resembles his old world, except that he has switched places with Naruto. However, soon he finds that this new world is nothing like his old one... AU, timetravel, gen. In the process of revision.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. This fan story is made for the enjoyment of me and other fans. I make no money off of this, and any similarites to other copyrighted works are of coincidence.
Note: I have redone this first chapter. I know I really should be writing the next chapter, but I was hit by a plotbunny on my own story (isn't that weird?) and decided to rewrite the first chapter. Actually, it wasn't just a revision; it was a total makeover. I changed the plot a bit (just minor details, nothing big) and touched up his thoughts, because the first version had Sasuke too OOC. So, please note that there will be some contradictions between this chapter and the unrevised ones that are still up! I am going over them, but it will take some time for the whole thing to be revised.
Another note: This story will not have any pairings. It will be general. There may be hints of pairings in the upcoming chapters, but only hints. (Hinted pairings may include SasuSaku, NaruHina, NaruSaku, and any other I deem appropriate at that time, though these will never be yaoi and only in very, very short parts.)
Thanks to silver-eyed for pointing out something which I'd missed before. :D
But 'nuff said. Enjoy. And always, always review to let me know how I'm doing. :)
He couldn't wake up.
His first thought that he was dead, because he'd never had trouble waking up before and now he was.
His second thought that he was asleep at Orochimaru's hideout, because that was obviously where he was supposed to be.
And his third thought was the rational no, he couldn't be dead or asleep at Orochimaru's hideout because plainly, there was light shining infuriatingly at his eyes and neither death nor the hideout had sunlight.
He sat up abruptly, scowled at the light streaming in from the window, and promptly fell back into the hard futon, covering his eyes with his arm and wishing the sun would go away with all his will.
Slowly, the wheels in his mind started turning like steady clockwork. Some thing was off here. Now, he asked himself silently, why wasn't he at Orochimaru's hideout? Racking his brain, he tried to recall the last thing he'd done. He'd fallen asleep, right? Yes, that was it. But he'd fallen asleep at Orochimaru's hideout. And, when he awoke, suddenly that dreary hideout was replaced by a bright, sunny apartment.
The irony of it all could not have been more.
He wondered if this was all just a dream, and after a few seconds of silent contemplation, he surmised that it indeed was, he would soon wake from it. Rolling over and finding his sense of touch was unnervingly real, the black-haired teen surveyed the apartment with dull, disinterested eyes. It was sparsely-furnished but irritatingly messy. Wrinkled, secondhand clothes littered the floor.
Wondering silently in disgust whether the resident of this apartment—if there was one—knew the meaning of 'laundry,' he pushed himself up with a grunt and dazedly stared at the opposite wall. For a dream, this was disturbingly realistic. Was it possible this wasn't actually a dream and he'd instead been abducted? The thought crossed his mind with a twinge of fear, but he shook his head.
Nah. Not possible. He must just be dreaming.
He leaned his chin on the palm of one hand and let his elbow sink into his knee. How did one wake from a dream? He wondered. Were you supposed to pinch yourself? It seemed so rudimentary that for a split second he dismissed it, but then the logical part of him reasoned that if a dream was basically a weaker, self-inflicted genjutsu, pain would work.
So he pinched himself, and frowned as the surroundings remained the same.
Huh. Maybe he needed to pinch harder.
Bunching a small part of skin on his left thumb with his right thumb and index finger, he pinched himself harder this time, and still nothing happened.
This is strange, he thought while sucking on the bleeding thumb. (It was something he'd never done before and yet it seemed so strangely natural—not that he'd ever tell anyone that; besides, this was a dream so he could do whatever he wanted.)
Clumsily rising (hah! Since when did the great Uchiha Sasuke do anything but gracefully and fluidly?), he decided to change and explore this dream for the present. After all, he had nothing else to do. If pinching hard did not work, he would just stay in this dream for the present. Maiming himself was not something he wanted to do, because in this dream feelings were strangely intense, and a cut painful enough to release him would definitely hurt badly. Besides, he was a patient sort of person. (He ignored that it was a statement that no one would be able to back.) He could wait until he woke up naturally.
Waking up in the morning and changing his clothes was a habit he'd never lost, even after he had no one to remind him to do so. Being active was in his blood, and remaining in pajamas often resulted in sleepiness, something practically forbidden as an Uchiha.
While carefully stepping over the various obstacles on the ground—not all of them were clothes; some were unidentifiable objects that lay here and there, and he was extremely careful to avoid them by a large margin—he crossed to the opposite side and opened the dresser drawer.
The teenager's frown twitched imperceptibly as the horribly clashing colored clothes and the smell of food—food, imagine that in a clothes drawer!—assaulted his senses. Digging through the messy piles of clothes (even in a drawer they were not folded!), he picked out a threadbare, mostly-white shirt—there was a small brown stain at the left side, but it as at least cleaner than the other shirts—and some dark blue shorts one size too small.
It would fit, he mused, but not very comfortably. He wondered then if he could imagine things up in dreams (he'd never tried before, and after all, nothing short of the Mangekyou Sharingan would defeat Itachi in his nightmares and he doubted he could imagine that) and proceeded to try, but unsurprisingly nothing happened.
Crossing yet another sea of strewn clothes, he stepped into the bathroom and was slightly relieved to see that it was at least clean. A faint smell of some cleaner—was that bleach?—drifted through the air, and silently he wondered why this person's bathroom was so clean—except for the mirror, which was hardly a mirror due to some sort of whitish paste on its surface—while the rest of his apartment was messy. Ah well. It didn't matter, for the time being.
As he changed, he wondered whether in dreams, there was actually an owner to this apartment. Or, since he woke up here, was he the owner? No, he thought in disgust. Even my dream self wouldn't be so messy.
He pulled his shirt over his arms and found that it fit just right, even though it wasn't supposed to. Furrowing his brow in confusion, he then pulled on his short, which again fit. This was strange. Was his vision somehow damaged that he couldn't tell what would fit him and what wouldn't? Because he was absolutely sure that the clothes he'd picked out wouldn't fit. Slowly concluding that because it was a dream, and dreams were limited only by the imagination, he decided that it was probably possible.
However, a strange feeling came over him all the same.
Shaking it off with more quickness than an emotionally-stunted Uchiha ought tohave done, he hoped this wasn't a nightmare. He'd only had nightmares about his clan's massacre, but every time he had it, it seemed more and more traumatic. True, this wasn't the scene for the massacre, but he wouldn't put it past his imaginative mind to find some way to warp this sunny atmosphere.
He reached for the toothbrush, but abruptly stopped. It was orange.
Suddenly, an influx of images of a blond dobe sprang uninvited into his mind. He reeled back, clutching his head. Why now? He'd never had problems with the color orange before. It did remind him of the dobe, which was why he shunned the color, but it didn't actually send him into headaches.
Taking a deep breath to calm his thudding heart, he swallowed and took the toothbrush again, glaring at it as if he was challenging it to send him into a headache again. When it didn't—it was an inanimate object, why on earth would he expect a sneering answer?—he brushed his teeth with calmness that betrayed none of his slowly ascending nervousness. This was so unlike any of the dreams (nightmares, rather) that he was almost expecting Itachi to barge in the door any moment. (Granted, that would be strange enough, but Itachi was unfortunately ineluctable in his dreams.)
He rubbed his eyes and flinched as a sharp pain attacked his left eye. More annoyed than hurt, he rubbed the mirror with a nearby towel to inspect his eye. (He hoped that a capillary hadn't broken—how would he use the Sharingan then?) When the mirror had cleared somewhat, he leaned in to stare at himself.
Not at his eye, per se. At his whole body.
Had he grown… shorter?
His complexion had always been pale—even as a child, his mother worried whether her youngest was constantly ill or not—but now, it was inexplicably toughened, as if he'd trained outside for hours and hours. (He had never trained so hard that his face became hard like this before!) Most of his baby fat was gone, but some around the cheeks remained—like he was about to enter adolescence instead of being in it. His eyes were wider and more innocent looking. They had not yet been tainted with the sights of war and death. Fewer creases were between his eyebrows than when he'd last checked.
It was like… well, he was twelve again.
… Man that was a scary thought.
But, this was just a dream, wasn't it? He thought as his breaths rushed out, matching his thudding heart. Anything could happen. And if his sadistic mind wanted him to relive his Genin days… well, this would be the age to do it.
After finishing cleaning up and putting everything back in their respective holders more neatly than he'd found them, he crossed the perilous, obstacle-ridden floor to the adjacent wall, where a messily marked calendar hung off of a pushpin that seemed to defy all laws of gravity, with it hanging so precariously out of the hole in the wall. Snatching it and effectively uprooting the poor pin, he stared at the calendar with disbelief.
It was the day for his Academy Graduation Exams. This couldn't be happening.
He had just gone back three years in time in this dream.
Giving an annoyed huff, he dropped the calendar on the floor and stood there, wondering what he should do. It was a dream, wasn't it? Nothing he did really mattered at all. And if he experienced the past, so what? It couldn't be as bad as Itachi and that night.
Crossing the floor again—he resigned to his fate in cleaning up this horrid mess later—he opened the fridge and was completely horrified to see a few rotting vegetables, some sealed container of refrigerated mold—what on earth was that doing there?!—and a carton of milk, which he pulled out before pushing it back in with distaste on his face. It had expired two years prior to the present date. He wondered if there was anything edible at all.
Opening the pantry beside the refrigerator, he was slightly less surprised at the contents. It was mostly empty, except for a large—and that was an understatement—pile of neatly-stacked instant ramen packages. It was like being in Naruto's apartment, he thought dryly. Never mind the fact that he'd never actually been in his blond teammate's apartment.
Although he disliked ramen for a number of reasons—one of them being that they strongly reminded him of his Genin days and especially of the dobe—there was nothing else to eat, so he took one out, filled it to the line with hot water, and let it sit. The smell of ramen soon permeated the air and, unable to resist his growling stomach, he sat down and began to eat hungrily.
It was better than nothing, he supposed. But he could taste the cheap ingredients put in there. What brand was it? He took a quick glance at the side. Oh, a generic brand. Resuming his eating, he mused that thought. Now, why would this dream have the cheapest of the cheapest foods?
This really was Naruto's apartment, he thought, and then snorted. Of course. Only Naruto would have such a messy apartment.
After finishing his ramen with surprising alacrity, he glanced around, at a loss for what to do next in this dream while waiting for himself to wake up. Although he wasn't exactly fond of his graduation day, he supposed he could humor the dream a bit more. If he felt like it later, he would join the others for the test; however, if he didn't feel like it… well, it was only a dream. Failing the test because of absence wouldn't bear much weight on him.
Finding and pulling on some shoes that were at least half-decent, the black-haired boy strode out the door with a distinct calmness around him.
Sasuke started to walk down the street.
They were staring at him.
He'd noticed it quite a while ago, but still he wasn't used to it. People had stared at him in the past before, but that was because he was the 'oh-so-famous last Uchiha', and these stares were different. They were trying to be discreet, but some weren't doing as good as a job as he knew they could be doing. It was as if they were mixed between staring and pulling away.
A mother pulled her child away from him, and he watched them leave his sight with feigned disinterest on his face. Now, that was interesting. Why would they be afraid of him?
He'd watched Naruto receive stares like these once, while they were walking in the village. Of course the dobe had never noticed them—or at least, he hadn't shown that he was aware of them—but he had noticed. It was something that puzzled him enough, but his curiosity was not enough for him to actually search the answers out. Now that he was getting the same stares… well, he wondered. This dream was confusing. Was this supposed to hurt him, like all of those dreams about Itachi and the massacre and etcetera did? If so, it wasn't working.
Or, there was something worse about to come up. He braced himself mentally for whatever was going to come—this was like the calm before the storm, after all.
Another family pulled away from him. He laughed silently; it was as if he'd changed places with Naruto!
But if only he knew.
He didn't feel like taking the graduating test, so he turned left at the intersection right before the academy. They wouldn't miss him, after all. They had never had. Besides, all of this old Konohagakure was simply a figment of his imagination, and he could do whatever he wanted without fearing the consequences. He was free, finally.
Making a few turns around and about to survey the area, he walked up to a vegetable stand that he'd visited regularly during his time in Konoha. The owner was an old lady friend of the Uchihas, so he was often given them free. Although he didn't care for gifts because of his last name, he often just accepted it and left.
Mm. The tomatoes here were just as ripe as they had ever been. Licking his lips, he reached out to take one, but suddenly an old, sere hand swatted his away. Startled, he glanced up at the woman, who had an odd expression on her face which he'd never, ever seen her with before.
"You thief!" she accused, her screeching drawl grating against Sasuke's nerves. "You just think you can take whatever you want from my stand? You're a no good, dirty little runt! Tryin' to steal my tomatoes, eh? I'll show you what you get—" she raised a hand to slap him.
Shocked far beyond words, Sasuke just shook his head and raised both of his hands in defense. He glanced around at the other surrounding people—surely they wouldn't let this pass! Yet with a sinking heart he realized that they were not only watching it happen, but watching with contempt! He hadn't deserved this, had he? Surely not!
"You must be mistaken!" he protested, but another bystander pulled him away from her.
"You!" the man said harshly, "Get outta' here!" He threw Sasuke to the ground with surprising force. "And don't come back!" he yelled after him.
Utterly bewildered, Sasuke dashed along the street. He had meant to pay for the tomato, honestly! But somehow, things got mixed up. Why had that woman—that woman, who had always given him a free tomato with a smile when he stopped by—gotten so angry at him?
He let out a breath that he didn't known he'd been holding. So this was it. This was how his cruel, cruel mind was going to torture him. By making him disliked—rather, hated!—by the people who he knew.
He stopped, a sudden thought coming to mind. Well, good thing he didn't actually have that many people who he really knew, he thought dryly as he then continued on.
"Sasuke!" A voice called out as he stopped from his depressed walk. Who could be calling him now? Could it be another of the dream's tortures? But… why did that voice call him so familiarly? Few people called him that. And he didn't really care for it, either.
He turned around, and promptly blinked in confusion. Iruka-sensei? Then, his expression hardened. He'd unknowingly made a U-turn and somehow traveled back to the Academy. What would his former teacher do to him now? "Iruka-sensei," he said evenly, betraying no emotion.
"You were supposed to be in the class thirty minutes ago!" the Chuunin yelled, grabbing the front of Sasuke's shirt.
Startled at this utterly audacious act, he glared at his teacher. "So?" he shot back.
"Don't play games with me!" Iruka yelled. "You're going to miss your graduating exams!"
"And what if I don't want to graduate?" was the irked response.
Iruka's mouth fell open slightly as he processed the statement. Brushing his hand off, Sasuke pulled away from his teacher. Surprisingly, Iruka's words came out much softer than he'd expected. Almost disappointed, really—though the disappointment held no weight on his shoulders. As heartless as it was, Sasuke had never really cared for his Academy teacher; but the words themselves shook him into silence.
"You gave up on your dream?" Iruka asked, a light in his eyes dimming.
And Sasuke honestly didn't know why that bothered him, because it shouldn't have and it had never mattered before. Not when he answered Iruka indifferently when he'd been asked about the massacre, not when he'd shoved a fangirl off of the roof he was sitting on, and not when he became more closed and cold. So he didn't answer, settling for an expression which would've looked pretty impressive had his lower lip not unknowingly stuck out, making it seem more like a young child's pout.
"You… don't want to be Hokage?" Iruka frowned.
This time he did respond. "H-Hokage?!" Sasuke spluttered out indignantly, caught off guard. "Why would I want to be that?"
Almost immediately as he said that, he regretted it. Iruka's eyes lit with a light of utter shock, and then suspicion, and then finally disappointment. "Did… something happen?" the Chuunin asked gently.
"No," Sasuke all but spat out. Nothing, except that he'd woken up in a weird place and people he thought he knew were suddenly strangers.
Slightly put off by the viciousness in the younger shinobi's tone, Iruka adopted his usual serious face again. "Well, you should go in anyway. I don't believe that you don't want to become a shinobi—so head on in and you can thank me for it later." And without any room to protest, Iruka shoved Sasuke towards the Academy door, a mere twenty feet but almost an eternity away.
"I don't want to go," Sasuke gritted out forcefully as he tried to resist Iruka's surprisingly strong grip. He was the personal student of Orochimaru, so why couldn't he resist this lowly Chuunin?!
Iruka said nothing as he carted the protesting boy to the Academy.
Sasuke stopped thrashing around as soon as they entered his old classroom. It brought back memories which he'd rather not remember—seeing as they would only pour guilt on his conscience—but some part of him said yes, this is right. Everything was back to… well, when it was normal.
He hated himself for liking it.
Why would he care, anyway? Hadn't his choice been Orochimaru, and hadn't he known that things could never go back to normal, no matter how much he wanted it later? Hadn't he abandoned this life for power?
Dazedly, he barely felt Iruka's final push into the room and cheery, "We'll be starting the exams in a few minutes, so stay here!" as he practically stumbled to the desks. He felt a few pairs of eyes on his back, and though his sometimes overly-cautious senses twitched, he ignored them as he surveyed the room. All of the Rookie Nine were here—of course, where would they be otherwise?—and with a nervous lurch he saw, among the brown and blond and black hairstyles, a head of cherry pink.
"Sakura," he whispered quietly to himself. She hadn't noticed him yet, and he honestly didn't know if that was good or bad.
Then, turning, he saw, with another lurch in his stomach, a mop of familiar blond hair. He saw the crystalline blue eyes that he hadn't seen for so, so long and ever since the battle at the Valley of the End; and, he saw—
He was frowning.
Naruto was frowning.
That was impossible—a contradiction in itself—because Naruto never frowned.
Come to think of it, Naruto had this expression on—some expression that Sasuke himself had used during his Academy days. An expression along the lines of, 'I could be doing better things, like training.' Neither did that happen.
So why on earth was it happening?
Suddenly, he realized something. It was minor, but nevertheless annoying, and that added to the previous frustration of Naruto's behavior grated on Sasuke's nerved. Barely suppressing his anger, he walked directly up to the blonde and rapped the desk to get his former—future?—teammate's attention. "Dobe," he snapped, "you're sitting in my seat."
The room stilled suddenly, and all eyes were on the two.
Naruto slowly raised his head, and a simmering light in his eyes stared at Sasuke. "What did you say?" he asked in a clear, concise, infuriatingly cool manner.
"I said, you're sitting in my seat." Sasuke repeated a bit more forcefully.
"No, I'm not."
Naruto cocked his head slightly, the hard gaze never wavering. "No, I'm not."
Sasuke copied the blonde, cocking his head as well. "You are."
Silence reigned in the room—not a single person stirred. One could almost see the electric sparks flying between the two's eyes.
"I know I'm not wrong," Naruto said quietly but firmly, "because I've sat in this place for the last four years—" he leaned forward— "Dobe."
Sasuke's eyes grew cold—How dare he say something like that!—and he opened his mouth to respond, before suddenly shutting it and settling for simply glaring at Naruto. Iruka was approaching the classroom, and if he saw them arguing matters would only become more… troublesome, for the lack of a better word. "Fish-cake boy," Sasuke muttered under his breath before walking around the desk and sitting next to Naruto.
Discreetly watching the bystanders' shocked expressions, Sasuke could only wonder what on earth he had gotten himself into. He leaned back as Sakura—as he had expected—stomped over to him and demanded loudly for him to move so she could sit next to her Naruto-kun.
Whoa. Rewind. What had just happened?
Sakura? Asking him to move so she could sit next to Naruto?!
That just didn't happen.
He stared at the ranting Sakura out of the corner of his eye. No expression came over his face, but inside an overwhelming confusion had taken over his mind.
Sakura was asking him to move so she could sit next to Naruto.
Watching her with a bland eye, he said shortly, "Sakura, if Naruto actually wanted to you sit next to him, he'd ask."
Sakura's mouth opened and closed like a goldfish's.
Returning his attention to the empty front of the class, he mulled over his situations. This was a strange dream, he thought, where Naruto was him and he was Naruto and Sakura was obsessed over his teammate. When am I going to wake up? He wondered silently.
"But Naruto-kun didn't ask you, either!" Sakura finally protested.
He again glanced at her. "You took a long time to respond for someone with such knowledge," he remarked.
As she was about to erupt, Iruka walked in briskly, so she left to some other seat, fuming all the way. But it wasn't like Sasuke really cared, anyway. She'd gotten better over the years, but he'd left Konoha before she'd really become powerful, and besides—his ties had been cut long ago.
Iruka sternly commanded, "Everyone, back to your seats now!"
Not daring to cross their sensei, the idling students walked back to whatever seat was theirs. Or open.
"Now, it's time for the graduating exam!" Iruka announced. He then proceeded to explain the tests, rules, and whatnot as Sasuke tuned him out.
Why am I here again? He complained.
When his turn was called, he walked into the next room with a cool—but bordering on annoyed—gaze. Oh yes, he thought, irritated, I'm here because Iruka-sensei thought I should be in the exam instead of wandering off. He scowled. What a complete waste of time.
Iruka and Mizuki sat behind an elongated desk which had many rows of gleaming hitai-ates on it. Motioning to start, Iruka said, "You may begin. Please create at least four bunshin."
This was too easy. Was it a joke? A trick? Sasuke tensed, but created the seal and spoke, "Bunshin no jutsu," and four bunshin—two on each side—appeared. He repressed a smirk—by only creating four, he wouldn't be playing into their plan—whatever that was.
But Iruka and Mizuki were obviously surprised.
In fact, they looked like gaping goldfish at the moment.
Large eyes, open mouth.
"W-Well," Iruka stuttered, having a hard time finding his voice.
One of Sasuke's eyebrows rose. He had done what they had asked for. Was that so… unexpected? Why had they even asked if they thought he wouldn't—or couldn't—have done it? Was this another part of the trick?
He cleared his throat, and Mizuki wordlessly held out a hitai-ate to him. Walking forward, he took it, and left the room.
As he and the next person in line passed each other in the hall, he stared at his hitai-ate. It would be useful, he mused. He hadn't had one in such a long time that… it would feel… His thoughts trailing off into silence, he lifted the headband and tied it around his forehead. It felt restricting, like a chain to this village. When he had the chance, he would take it off and draw a line through that symbol, for the second time.
He'd abandon his village again.
Let me know what you think. The writing style of this chapter and the next chapters are so horrendously different, but I'm going to go over it. And expand it. (Gack! By the time I reach chapter 20, I'll have a 100,000 word story!)
So, hang tight with me for a revision of the next chapter, and as always, reviews make me update sooner. ;)